The meaning Of word Family Definition is described here.The word ‘family’ is one which it is difficult, if not impossible to define.’ In one sense it means all persons related by blood or marriage; in another it means all the members of a household, including parents and children with perhaps other relations, lodgers and even servants. But both these definitions are far too wide for our purpose.
The fact that two persons can claim descent from a common ancestor does not per se affect their legal relations at all: it is relevant for only one purpose. that of intestate succession. Similarly, the legal relationship between the head of a household and his lodgers and servants is contractual and therefore lies outside the scope of this book. Essentially, the family may be regarded as a basic social unit constituted by at least two people, whose relationship may fall into one of three categories. Most families will consist of three or more members falling into at least two different categories.
First, the relationship may be that of husband and wife or two persons living together in a manner similar to spouses. The large number of people now cohabiting outside marriage has forced the law to take cognisance of this social phenomenon. If an extra-marital union comes to an end by separation or death, the parties and their children may need the same protection as spouses and their children. and consequently the legal position of cohabitants has to a certain extent been assimilated to that of married persons.
This will be considered further in the next section. but it must be stressed immediately that rights have been accorded only to those living in a heterosexual relationship: homosexual couples are in no different legal position from two persons (of either sex) who share accommodation out of friendship Or convenience.- Secondly, a family may be constituted by a parent living with one or more children. Thirdly. brothers and sisters or other persons related by blood or marriage may be regarded as forming a family. The relationship. however. has only very limited effects on their legal position, and these arise principally on the death of another member Of the family. Our purpose will be to examine the legal consequences that flow from these relationships.
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Many of them are personal but others affect financial provision and claims to property. Because the vast majority of families are still based on marriage, we shall start with this subject: how a marriage is contracted and annulled, its legal effects and the consequences of its breakdown. At each stage where it is relevant we shall also contrast the position of spouses and extra-marital cohabitants. We shall then consider the legal consequences of the relationship of parent and child, together with the related subjects of guardians, adopted children, wards of court and children in the care of a local authority. Finally, we shall examine the question of financial provision and the effect of these relationships on property rights.