With January 2017 nearly over I was hoping, with a great number of others that 2017 may be a little brighter than 2016. Not so. There are so many odd things happening around the world that it’s hard to believe that these things are actually real. While never political, I can’t help being influenced by the last year’s events when thinking about what to write for this latest article.
So avoiding the huge elephant in the room that is Brexit and America I am going to look at other odd news. Pink News reported this week that the Polish President, Andrzej Duda has said that his country will never legalise marriage equality. Poland isn’t alone, there are other European countries that are of the same view. Meanwhile here, the amendment to the Civil Partnership Act failed at its second reading so that straight couples can only get married, while same-sex couples can marry or enter into a civil partnership. Clearly allowing couples the choice to marry or have a civil partnership is the right thing to do, but if we are equal this should apply to straight couples too. Does it really matter in the final analysis because once married or civilly partnered you either stay together forever and never consider which piece of paper you have, or you separate and the process for doing so is exactly the same regardless of sexuality. Odd decisions.
Another odd decision is Alaska’s decision to treat family pets as ‘non-human family members’ who ought to be considered in divorce proceedings. Here when separating the Courts will consider the welfare of any children of the family above financial considerations but pets don’t get a look in. For couples who have no children, and have treated family pets as their children this approach can seem monstrous. Alaskan Courts can now however look at joint ownership of companion animals. Surely there has to be a middle ground somewhere? Whilst I entirely agree that pets are not chattels and cannot be compared with fixtures and fittings, there is so much to litigate about when separating that to add an application for your family pet into the bargain seems just a bit too much. But who am I to judge?
Family Law is so much more than applications and litigation in the conventional sense. You are not dealing with contracts between faceless beings, you are looking into the lives of people and in doing so you will have an impact on someone’s life for a significant amount of time. The Courts therefore have to take their responsibilities seriously and governments should treat all fairly. People should be allowed to marry people, end of debate. If you want to argue over your family cat or dog, you should probably be allowed to do that too. With January coming to a close I am hopeful that February will be a month of reflection and tolerance and forward thinking.