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'Over the last 50 years, the way that the courts have defined family has changed dramatically. Following the criteria that the House of Lords set out in Fitzpatrick v Sterling Housing Association [2001] 1 A.C. 27, Polyamorous units and "families of choice

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  • Essay length: 4468 words
  • Submitted: 25/03/2008
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University Degree Family Law

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'Over the last 50 years, the way that the courts have defined family has changed dramatically. Following the criteria that the House of Lords set out in Fitzpatrick v Sterling Housing Association [2001] 1 A.C. 27, Polyamorous units and "families of choice" should now be legally recognised Critically discuss.

In the last fifty years the courts definition of family has changed significantly. This process has been slow and progressive in nature, evolving from a restrictive narrow definition of family, to recognition of diversity within the family arena. Thus Fitzpatrick v Sterling Housing Association 1 was herald a successful expansion to the definitional boundary of family membership, by formulating a 'functional judicial interpretation'2 for the purposes of the Rent Act 1977. Through this the courts took into consideration the position of a same sex couple and reasonably constituted them as family. However, if now we were to apply the criteria set by the House of Lords in the above case to consider whether "families of choice" i.e. self identified network grouping of friends and lovers3, 'polyamorous units' 'all forms of multi- partner relationships'4 should now be legally recognised, undoubtedly it would prove to be a contentious issue for the courts,

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