Another week, another politician talking about marriage. This week it was David Cameron again, restating the Tory intention to give tax breaks for married couples.
The idea has been met with enthusiasm by the Roman Catholic Church, apparently, which has suggested this is a big vote winner among congregations up and down the country. Whether those congregations now have significant numbers to affect the course of a general election or not remains to be seen.
The Red side of the House has suggested it will look at giving greater rights to unmarried couples – effectively bestowing many of the legal rights that are as much a part of a wedding as rings and cake, onto those deciding not to walk up the aisle but committing to one another in less formal ways.
What this goes to show is that issues affecting marriage are seen by those of all political persuasions as a way of wooing voters, something I do not remember happening in previous campaigns to any great extent.
It also means that the lines between being married and living together are more blurred than ever before, along with the rights and responsibilities they bring, and there are an increasing number of issues the average person in the street needs to be up on if they want to get into – or out of – a relationship. This is how many people end up losing out financially, as well as emotionally, as the result of a break-up.
Trying to chart the waters alone is fraught with danger so what family lawyers need to be doing is offering free initial consultations, not on the specifics of an individual case, but of the options available to them. Perhaps if the politicians started talking about this as a policy, it would make up the minds of a few more voters looking for what tangible benefits they will get from an election that threatens to fatigue the nation before May 6th has been unveiled as polling day.
Family law specialist