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Should couples marrying in civil ceremonies be able to use religious rituals and vows within their ceremony

According to a new study by Dr Stephanie Pywell from The Open University Law School and Professor Rebecca Probert from the University of Exeter Law School, couples marrying (or entering into a Civil Partnership) in civil ceremonies should have the choice to have religious vows, readings, music and rituals during their ceremony. Their work has been reported as being the first investigation into the words and rituals that are requested by couples. It is anticipated that this research will feed into a new Law Commission review on current marriage legislation.

The current position

This issue was raised in 2013 when a couple due to wed in Wilton’s Music Hall were told that the words ‘in sickness and in health’ and ‘to have and to hold’ could not form part of their marriage vows as they were ‘too religious’ for a civil ceremony.

When civil marriage was first introduced in 1836, there were no such restrictions. There appear to have come into being with the Marriage and Registration Act 1856 which stated that “ … at no Marriage solemnized at the Registry Office of any District shall any Religious Service be used at such Registry Office.”

There have been various pieces of legislation over the years which have set out what is and what is not allowed to form part of a civil marriage ceremony. These provisions have perhaps most clearly (and most recently) been stated in the Marriages and Civil Partnerships (Approved Premises) Regulations 2005. These include provisions such as:

  • Any proceedings conducted on approved premises shall not be religious in nature.
  • In particular, the proceedings shall not—
    • include extracts from an authorised religious marriage service or from sacred religious texts;
    • be led by a minister of religion or other religious leader;
    • involve a religious ritual or series of rituals;
    • include hymns or other religious chants; or,
    • include any form of worship.
  • But the proceedings may include readings, songs, or music that contain an incidental reference to a god or deity in an essentially non-religious context.
  • For this purpose any material used by way of introduction to, in any interval between parts of, or by way of conclusion to the proceedings shall be treated as forming part of the proceedings.

These requirements have since been included in the Registrar General’s Guidance for the Approval of Premises as Venue for Civil Marriages and Civil Partnerships, Sixth Edition (June 2015) where it is made clear that the registrars themselves are compelled to exclude anything that they deem to be “religious in nature”.

Conclusion of Research

The study highlights the unequal footing of the current prohibition on the inclusion of religious practice in the ceremony and further illustrates the presumption of registrars being experts in the marriage traditions of all religions.

The study asked registrars for their views on whether they would allow a selection of vows and rituals from various religions to be included in the civil marriage ceremony. The findings were:

  • 93% were willing to allow a vow taken from a Hindu marriage service
  • 79% were willing to allow words taken from the marriage vows of the Baha’i faith
  • only 25% were willing to allow the familiar words “to have and to hold”, which originate in the Church of England marriage ceremony. However, 89% were happy to allow the Church’s less familiar updated wording: “all that I am I give to you, and all that I have I share with you.”

Clearly this demonstrates that those who wish to marry using traditional Church of England vows are facing more issues because registrars are more familiar with those than other religious vows.

Recommendations

The study concluded that those entering into a civil partnership need clearer advice as to what they can and cannot do in their ceremony, and equally registrars need to be provided with better guidance on what is permitted.

Professor Probert stated that “the law in this area is in urgent need of reform – at a minimum to clarify what is required, and to eliminate inconsistencies in practice, and ideally to permit greater flexibility in what can be included in such ceremonies,” She further stressed that any new regulations must be carefully drafted to ensure that registrars are not expected to read religious wording as part of the ceremony, but allowing them to simply observe the words being said, or rituals performed. She stated that “this would mirror what registrars can already do when they attend places of worship to register religious marriages,”.

It is hoped that by reforming this aspect of the law, couples would be able to create vows based on their own beliefs and practice, and ensure that the solemn and magical occasion is perfect for every individual couple.

The post Civil ceremony with religious vows? appeared first on Maguire Family Law.

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Maguire Family Law Blog by Eimear Maguire - 2w ago

Team of the Year

We are absolutely over the moon to announce that we have won Team of the Year at the North East Cheshire Business Awards!

The aim of the North East Cheshire Business Awards is to recognise the drive, success and talent of the entrepreneurs and dedicated employees working within North East Cheshire. The glittering awards ceremony took place at The Mere Hotel and Spa in Knutsford and was a fabulous celebration of all that is good in business.

Maguire Family Law boasts 9 specialist solicitors ranging from newly qualified to over 20 years’ PQE, plus our first ever trainee solicitor, 2 skilled paralegals and our incredible support staff. We promote exceptional client service and our creative team structure enables us to deliver tailored advice, both in cost and technique, to suit every client individually.

2018 saw us introduce a new Service Pledge for clients; and delivering on each and every element of this is our main objective over the next 3 years. The aim of our Service Pledge is to put clients at ease, taking them to their new day one in a way which makes them feel valued and supported. As part of this, it is vital that as a team we align ourselves with our client’s objectives as we strive to achieve a positive outcome for them. There is a strong emphasis on managing clients’ expectations, to include a cost / risk / benefit analysis in respect of the financial, emotional and practical impact of any steps taken.

Potential clients are now able to choose our firm based on our high level of client care. Our reputation and values are recognised within the legal directories Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners. We have twice been nominated for Family Team of the year at the Manchester Legal Awards; and are delighted to have been shortlisted for Law Firm of the Year – North in the Lexis Nexis Family Law Awards 2018 which are taking place in London next week. We are certainly keeping our fingers crossed for another win!

Our success is undoubtedly underpinned by our solid team effort and we are immensely proud of every member of our team for contributing to our success! Our testimonials are a credit to every team member. Well done everyone.

The post Team of the Year appeared first on Maguire Family Law.

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Keeping up with the Kardashians – Daddy drama and unmarried father’s rights:

On Sunday night Kardashian fans worldwide rallied around their televisions to tune into the latest episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians titled ‘Betrayal.’ The eagerly awaited episode focused on the devastating moment that saw Khloe Kardashian nearly go into early labour amidst the news that her boyfriend, basketballer Tristan Thompson, had been caught cheating just days before their child’s due date.

The couple, who are not married but are currently cohabiting, are both parents to 7 month year old baby girl True who was born on 12 April 2018, just two days after the cheating videos emerged. Although Khloe claims to have forgiven Tristan’s behaviour and the couple continue living together, their future remains somewhat uncertain.

This brings us on to the question that with nearly half of children being born out of wedlock in England and Wales, what rights do unmarried fathers have in relation to their children and how do they acquire these rights?

Parental Responsibility (PR):

Parental responsibility is the legal concept and represents all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property. On a practical note this means that any decisions made in relation to a child’s schooling, choice of doctors and so on will be required to be made by somebody with parental responsibility.

A biological mother automatically has PR after their child is born however a biological father does not. So how can a father acquire parental responsibility?

Acquiring Parental Responsibility:

Under Section 4 of the Children Act 1989 a father can acquire parental responsibility in one of the following ways:

  • If the father is married to the mother at the time of the birth or they later become married;
  • If the father is not married but is named on the child’s birth certificate as the father;
  • If the mother and father sign a Parental Responsibility Agreement providing for the father to have parental responsibility;
  • If the father gets a Parental Responsibility Order from the Court

It is therefore fairly straightforward for a biological father to acquire parental responsibility for their child. However, can step-fathers also acquire parental responsibility?

Step-father acquiring Parental Responsibility:

A step-father does not automatically have PR for a child but step-fathers can acquire PR under Section 4A of the Children Act by entering into a Parental Responsibility Agreement as long as consent has been given by all of the parents who already have PR. Step-fathers also have the option if parents with PR do not all give their consent of applying to the court for a Parental Responsibility Order and any Section 8 order, which includes an Order for the child to live with or spend time with them.

It is important to remember that when the court considers any application under the Children Act, the court’s primary consideration will be the welfare of the child and unless evidence to the contrary is shown, the court will presume that the involvement of both parent’s in the life of the child concerned will further the child’s welfare.

The post What rights do unmarried fathers have? appeared first on Maguire Family Law.

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Keep your private life private

Love island star Cally Jane Beech has publicly accused her ex-boyfriend, Luis Morrison, of cheating on her while she was pregnant with their daughter Vienna. The couple started dating after meeting on the 2015 series of Love Island and welcomed their daughter in May 2017.

Now a single mother of 17 month old Vienna, Cally claims ‘she does everything on her own’. Luis publicly denied Cally’s claims and  Cally insists that Luis does not pay maintenance for their daughter.

The couple have now come under criticism for airing their problems on social media.

We live in times where social media is used frequently and sometimes compulsively. At times the general warning that children matters are private gets lost in the rush to respond to an incident. At Maguire Family Law, we have seen the court make orders that specifically direct the parties involved not to publicise details of their disputes on social media and in one of our more recent cases, the Judge requested an explanation of the social channel ‘Instagram’ so it could be decided if a party could post pictures of their children online.

We strongly advise our clients against posting anything disparaging relating to their spouse on social media sites.  Making negative comments about a partner on such platforms can have serious consequences in a case. Indeed, family lawyers often check social media content of those parties involved in a case to see what has been said and / or posted on such social media sites and often use the other party’s social media content as evidence of behaviour, relationships and events when presenting a case before a court.

Family matters require discretion in all areas.

The post Social media and family law appeared first on Maguire Family Law.

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Whilst October is technically still in Autumn, many view it as the beginning of the holiday season. Halloween is the first of these significant annual festivities and is often overlooked when determining a contact timetable. But why? For many children, Halloween is great fun – from pumpkin carving to picking a costume to fancy dress parties and trick or treating.

With 55 days left until Christmas Day, Halloween is a great opportunity for both parents to get involved and could potentially be used to help improve relationships between separated parents in turmoil. But how?

Communication

Most nurseries, schools and extra-curricular clubs will have some sort of Halloween celebration, whether it is dressing up or bringing in your favourite sweet treats. If you are the parent that is notified of these events, it is important that you share these with the other parent at the earliest opportunity. Imagine how your child would feel if you’d each assumed that the other would buy the scary witch or wizard’s outfit, and they turn up to school in their uniform surrounding by gruesome ghouls, ghosts and little monsters.

Equally, make sure you know who is taking your child to and from their Halloween disco. If you assume the other parent will do it, your child might miss out. Communication is crucial.

Is that outfit appropriate?

Always remember that just because you think the short skirt and bunny ears are appropriate for your 13 year old daughter, her other parent might not. Equally, if you dress your 4 year old son up as a zombie war hero with a replica firearm, his Mum/ Dad might think this is far too violent. As co-parents, you need to decide with your ex-partner what you both deem to be appropriate for costumes.

By letting your child go out in something that you know their other parent will think is unacceptable, this will only serve to cause more friction between you. If the other parent then spots them and calls them out on their outfit, your child will feel uncomfortable, frustrated and angry in front of their friends. Why should your child feel upset because you have failed to talk to their other parent?

“Trick or Treat?”

As most Child Arrangements Orders tend to be silent on Halloween contact, it is up to both parents to decide who spends time with the children and when. It is imperative that you put your child’s wishes before your own. If they want to trick or treat with their friends or neighbours, let them. Don’t cause a row with your ex because you want your child to trick or treat where you live, where they don’t know anyone.

Equally, if their other parent lives around the corner or down the road, make an effort to offer to trick or treat together, or if you feel like that isn’t possible, split the night between you. If you are going to share the experience together, don’t bring your new boyfriend or girlfriend with you and do everything you can to be amicable. You never know, making some positive memories together might just help you smooth out the arrangements for the next occasion when the big man in red comes down the chimney!

Conclusion

Whilst you may think that Halloween is ‘just another money making day’, it can be a great opportunity to build bridges and work together to make sure that your child makes some wonderful (and scary!) memories of both parents working together, whether that be directly, or by organising things to ensure that the child feels as little conflict as possible.

The post How Halloween contact arrangements can be frighteningly workable! appeared first on Maguire Family Law.

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The Legal 500 – We are an ‘all-round strong team!’

‘Maguire Family Law has an all-round strong team – there is no deadwood at all’ – The Legal 500, 2019.

We are delighted to announce for the eighth consecutive year that the Maguire Family Law team has been ranked as a leading family law firm.

The Legal 500 single James Maguire out as a leading individual for his work in finance and international work stating that James is, ‘extraordinarily clever on financial remedy divorce work, international financial divorce work, child law and international child work’.

Henry Venables, a director at the firm, and Jennifer Curtis, who was recently made a partner, are also singled out for their approach towards client care, their considered approach to negotiations and meticulous preparation.

Partner, Denise Moran, is selected as a next generation lawyer, with The Legal 500 stating she is, ‘brilliant, intelligent, efficient and sympathetic’.

Published annually, The Legal 500 is a guide aimed at buyers of legal services; and year on year we are consistently listed as a leading firm in family law. The Legal 500 has been analysing the abilities of law firms across the world for 29 years. Law firms are rated across a broad range of criteria, with their research ‘based upon feedback from 300,000 clients worldwide, submissions from law firms and interviews with leading private practice lawyers’. We are therefore judged solely on merit.

We are delighted to be independently recognised for our hard work, which only goes to confirm the increasing strength of the team here at Maguire Family Law, with our focus on very high levels of client service and the consistent and successful outcomes we provide for our clients.

We are a niche practice with 9 specialist solicitors working within all areas of the family law spectrum including divorce, separation, children, matrimonial finance, pre-nuptial agreements, cohabitation disputes, same sex relationships and the international aspects of family law (including jurisdictional dispute, off shore assets, child abduction and relocation). We are dedicated to providing quality advice and exceptional service to each and every one of our clients.

We have offices in Wilmslow, Cheshire and meeting room facilities in Knutsford, Manchester and London.

The post Maguire Family Law all-round strong team appeared first on Maguire Family Law.

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