Changing Traditions and Definitions

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In order to answer this question one must first assess and consider the law relating to the family unit. This will require an in-depth analysis of the rationale behind the judgment of Re G[1], and whether the law has enhanced the changes in social normality and whether this should be promoted or restricted in its application. It is clear from the imposition of a family unit, that a ‘family’ needs defining. For the purposes of clarity, a ‘family’ can be defined in many different circumstances. The family unit was thus described as an institution, nurtured within the framework of marriage. It is clear from human nature that families did exist outside of the sphere of marriage, but these were classed as statistics and not normality. However, this stance has become increasingly strained since the interception and introduction of contemporary human rights law. This has extended to some unusual situations. As was seen in the case of Keegan v Ireland[2]. In this case the idea that two people whose only connection is by blood and had never in fact met was capable of being a family within the principles of Article 8 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of 1950. This Article enshrines the right to a private and family life. As such the conventional sense of a family being a father, a mother and 2.4 children is still relevant, but does not indicate the full extent to that of a family unit. It is worth stating at the outset that the case of Re G[3] will require further examination. This case concerned the care of two children that had been conceived via artificial insemination for a lesbian couple. In this particular case, the couple concerned had been together for a period of 7 years and decided that they wished to have children together. Following this decision, the younger female in the relationship, CG, was artificially inseminated from an anonymous donor. As a result Child A was born in 1999 and Child B in 2001. The non-biological parent, CW had a 17 year old son from a previous relationship, and all three children were brought up as siblings. Unfortunately, the relationship ended in 2002. As such CG and the two children moved into a new property, whilst CW and her new partner stayed in the former family home. As such CW applied for contact and a shared residence order. Due to this application, CG made a number of emotive decisions regarding the children. These included enrolling the children in a new nursery and re-locating the children to her new partner’s home. During the led up to the hearing, CW continued to have staying contact from Friday to Monday on alternate weekends. During this period, however, CG began to question CW’s involvement with the two children, and was adamant that CW should not have parental responsibility[4] of the children, due to the fact that she was not the children’s biological parent.

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