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There is no war on marriage

I noticed over the weekend an exchange on Twitter between certain top family lawyers and a certain well-known journalist regarding a column written by the said journalist in a certain national newspaper. Intrigued, I thought I would have a look to see what said journalist had to say.

Where to start?

In the beginning, I suppose. The column is headed thus:

“The war on marriage? It is all about controlling YOUR children”

Hmm. Sounds serious. Who could be waging a war upon marriage? And why do these hideous people want to control YOUR children? I had to read on…

The column then launches into a series of rhetorical questions, including:

“Why does our new power elite hate lifelong marriage so much?”


“Why does the legal arm of that elite, the Supreme Court, hand out what is left of the privileges of marriage to those who won’t get married, as it did with the widowed parents’ allowance on Thursday?”

Ah, now we’re getting somewhere. We are referring here to the Supreme Court decision in the McLaughin case last week, which I mentioned here in my weekly review post on Friday. As I explained, the court held that a mother in Northern Ireland should be entitled to widowed parent’s allowance following the death of her partner, despite not being married to him.

It seems that when those with the power to make decisions that affect the rest of us do so in a way with which we do not agree they must be an ‘elite’.  Because, of course, ‘elite’ is the new derogatory term for such people, who are obviously out of touch with the rest of society.

But it is not just that. The ‘elite’ have an agenda. We are told that they:

“…hate marriage because it is a fortress of private life. They hate it above all because they can’t control it, because it is the place where the next generation learn how to be distinct, thinking individuals instead of conformist robots.”

Now it becomes clear. The ‘elite’ want to control YOUR children, by giving widowed parent’s allowance to their mothers. Or something.

I’ll (happily) skip over the rest of the article, which becomes ever more bizarre, as the author goes into a frenzy of hatred of his own.

Of more interest is the exchange on Twitter. When it was suggested that it was wrong to describe the McLaughlin decision as a “war on marriage”, rather than simply reflecting modern relationships, said author responded by saying:

“Of course the enemies of marriage would describe such changes in the law in this way. But their spin does not alter the facts. If marriage is not uniquely privileged in law and in esteem, why will people bother to make these onerous commitments?”

OK, time for some real facts:

1. Family lawyers (and others) who support better rights for cohabitants are not the “enemies of marriage”. In fact, I don’t recall ever hearing another lawyer say anything against marriage. Quite the contrary, in fact. Family lawyers are in favour of marriage (and not just because it brings them work when it breaks down!).

2. The fact of the matter is that increasing numbers of couples are choosing to cohabit, rather than marry. The law must always reflect such changes in society.

3. Better rights for cohabitants is simply about fairness. There is no agenda to give cohabitants the same rights as married couples. Marriage will always be “uniquely privileged in law”.

4. And as for the suggestion that there is some sort of ultimate agenda to control children, I am at a loss to find any logic in this whatsoever, either from the point of view of how exactly children are to be controlled or from the point of view of why they are.

Perhaps I am not clever enough to understand. Or perhaps it is just a lot of nonsense, designed to stir up support for the false proposition that marriage is under attack.

Because there is no war on marriage. As I said above, all we are witnessing is a change in society, something that happens all the time, and the response of the system to that change. How the system responds should be a matter for sensible, reasoned, debate, rather than mired in an emotive language such as ‘elites’, ‘war’, ‘hate’, ‘control’ and ‘enemies of marriage’.

John Bolch often wonders how he ever became a family lawyer. He no longer practises, but has instead earned a reputation as one of the UK's best-known family law bloggers, with his content now supporting our divorce lawyers and child custody lawyers

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  1. Fred says:

    ….although it would be fair to say that the parlous state of the Family Law system is doing a pretty good job of alienating people from the notion of marriage. If young to-be-wed’s fully understood the grim realities of divorce and the feeding frenzy and abuse that ensues within a pointedly prejudicial and adversarial system they would probably think again. A secure institution it isn’t. A vehicle for exploitation? It certainly is.

  2. Helen Dudden says:

    I know, I write on the failures of marriage and Parental Alienation. But, a loving relationship is important to many. That’s why, I support mediation and Blame Free Divorce.
    There are now choices in relationships, and as a woman I still get emotional, watching a wedding taking place, I think, like most of us.
    Sometimes, life goes full circle, things change.

  3. Mr T says:

    I can answer this with one question. Why are lawyers confrontational? The same reason why MP’s are. So they have a job. So they have jobs and get paid.

    Any profession that profits from the destruction of families are wrong. Plain and simple.

    Social workers (jobs for mainly single mothers), CAFCASS (jobs for single mothers), Women’s Aid (funding and jobs for single mothers), Magistrates (zero training in anything!), Judges (lack of training), Court staff, specialist court witnesses, police the list is almost endless! All profit from the destruction of the family unit.

    I challenge you to prove me wrong with some REAL facts?

    Family courts are a total joke. They are the most toxic entity in society including all the people in them. It needs to be brought down the whole system and we need a new one. Just like the government and MP’s all lining their own pockets. We need a revolution is what we need bring back guy fawkes the civilians are way beyond not happy and its mainly men who are bearing the brunt of this mess.

    I was speaking to a friend last night and between us, we could not think of a single reason to be or seek a relationship with a woman. There is literally no benefit anymore. People don’t stay together for the kids anymore its not profitable. That is what they’re talking about on the mess that is Twitter.

    • Timmy Tom Tim says:

      ‘I was speaking to a friend last night and between us, we could not think of a single reason to be or seek a relationship with a woman.’
      You and your friend sound like top blokes, I imagine it must be difficult having to turn down all the women you have crawling all over you. As they beg you to stay, you shake your head sadly, sigh and patiently explain yet again how the family law system makes it so there is literally not a single benefit to connecting with another human being anymore.

  4. Mr T says:

    Question: provide some solid (factual) reasons as to what the government and \ or family courts do to promote the family unit?

  5. Terry james Scales says:

    I think we have to pose the question, why has and is Society devaluing marriage? To ascertain the reasons behind it we need to understand the origins. John implies law is just shadowing what’s happening in the wider Society, this for me is either gross ignorance or which I tend to believe, gross malevolence.
    The leftist Marxist agenda has for generations conceived marriage as the epitome of oppression that Marriage with its roots in religion needed to be denigrated to the point of extinction. Marxism/communism founders new that marriage was an affront to their ideology, marriage in its purest form is an unbreakable bond between man and women, a union entirely devised for the optimal rearing of children and to ensure our biological predispositions are satisfied. Communism is a system designed to replace the family, the state becomes the surrogate father, the states intrusion into the lives of it’s citizens becomes optimised.
    That’s why we denigrate marriage for an ideology, a pernicious malevolent ideology.

  6. JamesB says:

    Window tax caused windows to be bricked-up. Petrol tax caused people to buy diesels. Poll tax caused fewer people to be registered to vote. Baby dividend in France causes higher birthrate. VAT reduction in Luxembourg causes more companies to be located there. Same with Channel Islands taxation and the Middle East. Etc. I could go on and on with these examples, the above are straight from mind without looking up any. Government lead policy oftentimes and sadly in a bad way (e.g. Iraq and Eugenics and a load more examples).

    So, CSA/CMEC/CMOptions/CMS/Whatever they are calling themselves these days causes increased single-parenthood. Divorce law causes more divorces. £10 Pom law for trip to Australia caused emigration to there. Any Jew welcome in Israel, caused a lot of Jews to go there. The premise of the article that the law isn’t causing problems but rather reacting to them and isn’t to blame is absurd.

  7. JamesB says:


    Family lawyers are in favour of marriage (and not just because it brings them work when it breaks down!).

    Family lawyers are in favour of marriage because it brings them work when it breaks down.

    Perhaps John might also say why else he favours marriage. Or not, as I don’t think he has a point really as the only people he tends to feel sorry for are lawyers not having the order books full of divorce or cohabitation or children work that they might have, and he seems to be always on about trying to increase the amount of legal disputes in those areas for increasing lawyers fees and blaming men for any problems in the way of that in the process.

  8. JamesB says:

    ‘Rightly or wrongly, the people see it as a tax’ Hansard (from CSA select committee). Well, rightly really, a ‘man tax’ based on stupid law based on stupid incorrect assumptions on saving money and misplaced morality on helping women (to be more single).

  9. Helen Dudden says:

    There still seem to be some very one sided ideas, on women and marriage. Ive been a wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother.
    I seem to be the only women in here.

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