In the week in which the Government opens its consultation on same sex marriage, Zenith chambers are delighted to announce the publication in March 2012 by Jordan Publishing of a new book, “Children and Same Sex Families: A Legal Handbook”. Zenith barristers Sarah Greenan and Marisa Allman are co-authors of the book (together with Anthony Hayden QC, Elina Nhinda-Latvio and HHJ Jai Penna) which is the first publication to bring together the different strands of the law of England and Wales as they relate to same sex families.
The last 10 years has seen the coming into force of the Adoption and Children Act 2002, the Civil Partnership Act 2004, the Gender Recognition Act 2004, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 and the Equality Act 2010, all of which operate to support diversity and reduce inequality, particularly for same sex families and their children. Since 2009 the first generation of children have been born with two legal parents of the same sex without the need for adoption. In many ways the UK is at the forefront of legal recognition for alternative family structures, and these legislative changes are welcome. However, such significant changes in a short period of time, some of which are retrospective and others not, make the legal landscape particularly complex for same sex families.
It is also undoubtedly the case that being at the forefront of legal change creates its own difficulties for international families because of the absence of a uniform approach. The traditional marriage between a man and a woman is recognised throughout the world, as is the biological relationship between parent and child. The fact that the same cannot yet be said of cohabiting couples, same sex partnership, gender change, legal parenthood following assisted conception or surrogacy has far reaching implications for families who may live, work or have property and financial affairs in more than one country, even within Europe.
For the lawyer, this book provides a handy single volume guide to all aspects of family law as they relate particularly to children and same sex families. It is a comprehensive, current, practitioners’ text including the key authorities, statutes and good practice guidance.
If these issues are complex for lawyers, they are no less so for the families themselves and professionals working with them. This publication is unique not only for its content, but also in providing straightforward, practical guidance as to the law to individuals, families and non-legal professionals working with or supporting alternative families.
Family breakdown is difficult and distressing for all concerned. When a third person is involved in creating a child, and the child may be parented by 3 or 4 different adults, the potential for problems to arise in family relationships is increased. At times of high stress such as a bereavement or separation the legal relationships and arrangements in place often acquire immense importance or new significance. This book assists individuals and families to;
- understand their legal relationships with each other,
- make informed choices when planning their affairs, whether buying a property, making a will, becoming civilly partnered, creating a child or providing a family for a child,
- be aware of potential problems which may arise from their family circumstances and plan for them accordingly,
- reach informed agreements with all of the adults who are significant for the children concerned, and minimise the potential for relationship breakdown in the future, or resolve problems more easily where they have already occurred,
- understand the approach of the courts of England and Wales to same sex family law issues,
- know when to take informed, specific advice
The book also assists non legal professionals working with same sex families, such as police officers, social workers, CAFCASS Officers and human resources personnel, to have a good understanding of the legal framework and issues for children and same sex families when offering advice and support.
Click here for the full contents page.
Sarah Greenan and Marisa Allman can offer advice or training in relation to all areas of family law and would welcome any feedback from reviewers or readers via SGreenan@zenithchambers.co.uk or MAllman@zenithchambers.co.uk or Twitter. You can follow information about publication, launch events and recent developments in the law on Twitter @SameSexFamilies.