Marriage, Cohabitation, and Parenthood—from Contract to Status?

Gillian Douglas

in Cross Currents

Published in print December 2000 | ISBN: 9780198268208
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191683442 | DOI:
Marriage, Cohabitation, and Parenthood—from Contract to Status?

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In 1950, the United Kingdom was instrumental in the drafting of the European Convention on Human Rights. Article 12 of this Convention guarantees one right only, which links marriage to procreation. Over the last fifty years, there has been a gradual separation of these two aspects of family life, with parenthood replacing marriage as the organ principle and cornerstone of family law in England and Wales. This chapter traces the legal developments which demonstrate this trend and suggests possible ways in which the law will further develop in the wake of the social changes which have been experienced in the post-war period in Britain. It is the desire to draw clear boundaries which has been a major policy objective for legal developments concerning marriage, cohabitation, and parenthood. The search for certainty also explains the attraction of two different legal concepts—contract and status—as the bases for legal ties, with contract being promoted as the model to be used in adult relationships, and status as the key to establishing adult-child links.

Keywords: Britain; marriage; family law; social changes; parenthood; procreation; family life; cohabitation; contract; status

Chapter.  10854 words. 

Subjects: Family Law

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