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What is a 21st century family?

Lady Hale, the President of the Supreme Court, gave a presentation on 1st July 2019 to the International Centre for Family Law, Policy & Practice.

She reflected upon the makeup of the family today and how far removed it is from the historic recognition of the family being clearly linked to the dynastic needs of the rich and powerful, or indeed anyone with property.  She touched upon the latest ONS statistics (‘Snapshot of Families and Households in 2017’) where a family is defined as, “a married, civil-partnered or cohabiting couple with or without children, or a lone parent with at least one child.  Children may be dependent or non-dependent”.

In 2017 there were 19 million families.  Nearly 13 million were married or civil partner couple families.  There were 3.3 million cohabiting couple families and 2.8 million lone parent families.

In alighting upon the three stand-out developments in the last 50 years, she reflected upon the increasing desire and respect for individual autonomy in adult decision making.  Secondly, the interests of the children involved becoming increasingly seen as paramount.  Thirdly, whether there is a tension between these two evolving trends, and whether the Courts can allow adults their individual autonomy if this conflicts with the best interests of their children.

Lady Hale also talks extensively on the subject of surrogacy and proposals for reform.

Her presentation makes interesting reading.

As identified by Lady Hale, the changes to the role of the family in society have caused family lawyers to develop and adapt their practice accordingly.  Change will continue, and change needs to be embraced.

For more information on Family Law, please contact Beverley Morris on 0121 200 0890 or via email.

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For more information, please contact Beverley Morris on 0121 200 0890 or via email.