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Legal Neglect Has Eroded Marriage

Legal Neglect Has Eroded Marriage

Marriage has been eroded to the extent that it may soon be almost entirely legally insignificant, says Christchurch solicitor and author Angela Burgess.

“In the quest for equality, individual choice, non-discrimination, fewer Court battles and a pragmatic approach to the perceived needs of people, we have sacrificed an institution that has been revered as being both good for the individuals involved, children and the well being of society.”

In her new book called the ‘Erosion of Marriage’ she documents the progressive decline of marriage over the last 150 years on the foundational institution of our society.

Mrs Burgess says that the belief that marriage was valuable, indeed crucial for the good of society, meant it previously had a central and protected position in family law.

“It is alarming that an institution that has been encouraged and preferred in Western Societies for hundreds, if not thousands of years can be so quickly demoted based on an ideology that says all adult sexual relationships are valid and worthy of legal entitlement.

“Arguably the fact that marriage rates are falling and divorce rate are increasing and that there are more de facto relationships is the result, at least in part, of changes to the law itself.”

Marriage’s worth to society, to spouses and their children is its stability and permanence, yet the law undercuts this stability by no longer providing for a life long commitment, and by no longer preferring the marriage structure as the best form of relationship within which to raise children.

Marriage has been privatised to the extent that the law today imposes little on spouses in regard to their relationship with each other, says Angela Burgess.

“The law has neglected marriage. The next step is to consider more fully what marriages decline means for the welfare of our society.”

Angela Burgess will speak on the topic of ‘The Erosion of Marriage’ at the Maxim Institute Forum on 22 March, at 2.05pm, Waipuna Conference Centre Auckland.

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