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Lady Hale, president of the Supreme Court, shared her thoughts on the changing nature of the family in a speech given earlier this month.
Speaking at the International Centre for Family Law, Policy and Practice she focused on how societal change has impacted long-held perceptions of marriage and relationships.
Looking back to the beginning of her career, Lady Hale said: “We thought we knew what a family was. It was a group of people linked together by consanguinity or affinity or a mixture of both.”
She added that the concept had been relied upon over centuries as a way to pass on wealth. “This model of the family was clearly linked to the dynastic needs of the rich and powerful or indeed anyone with any property.”
However, such certainties were eroding rapidly in the modern world.
Lady Hale said: “The interests of the children involved are increasingly seen as paramount… Their rights to understand and develop their relationships with their parents – of all sorts – while feeling secure in their care arrangements lie at the heart of this. So children’s interests are seen as being individual to them in a way that would have been unthinkable in the past.”
The Law Commission has also recently published a consultation paper entitled Building Families through Surrogacy: a New Law.
Among other proposals the draft looks at the legal rights of intended parents (from birth), the potential safeguards required in the process and the role of a regulator for surrogacy.
The consultation period runs until 27 September 2019.