The end of the nuclear family

Sir James Munby, the president of the High Court’s family division made a speech at Liverpool University in honour of 20th century social reformer, Eleanor Rathbone, earlier this week in which he called for family law to “adapt itself to these realities” and described the pace of change “maddeningly slow”.

He went on to say that the modern British family was complex and took an almost infinite variety of forms and that whether through choice or circumstance, many people “live in families more or less removed from what, until comparatively recently, would have been recognised as the typical nuclear family….This, I stress, is not merely the reality; it is, I believe, a reality which we should welcome and applaud.”

Listing the ways in which the concept of “family” has changed, Munby P said: “People live together as couples, married or not, and with partners who may not always be of the other sex…Children live in households where their parents may be married or unmarried. They may be brought up by a single parent, by two parents or even by three parents. Their parents may or may not be their natural parents.”

He said the growth of international relationships had been fuelled by technology and cheap airfares, while same-sex relationships, which had previously been regarded as “perversions to be stamped out by the more or less enthusiastic enforcement of a repressive criminal law” were now treated with acceptance and respect. They may be children of parents with very different religious, ethnic or national backgrounds. They may be the children of polygamous marriages. Their siblings may be only half-siblings or step-siblings. Some children are brought up by two parents of the same sex. Some children are conceived by artificial donor insemination. Some are the result of surrogacy arrangements.”

Serving Bedford and the surrounding villages, together with our office in central London, the solicitors at Hunter and Uro Solicitors can help you with any family law matter, including divorce, separation, financial matters and orders relating to your children. If you would like to speak to one of our solicitors to discuss your case, contact us on 01234 889777 or 0207 177 9777.


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