Marriage and family according to the legal system.

Essay by Princesscheat August 2003

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The Australian Bureau of statistics defines family as "two or more persons, one of whom is at least 15 years of age, who are related by blood, marriage (registered or de-facto), adoption or fostering, and who are usually resident in the same household." The family is the basic unit of society and for this reason; all aspects of family life are governed by the law. Birth, marriage, death and all relationships between partners and their children are subject to legal restrictions, and in all of those concerning children, their rights are paramount. The areas of family that I will be outlining are marriage which is the union of man and women voluntary entered for life to the exclusion of all others. In the English common law tradition, from which our legal doctrines and concepts have developed, a marriage was a contract based upon a voluntary private agreement by a man and a woman to become husband and wife.

Marriage was viewed as the basis of the family unit and vital to the preservation of morals and civilization. Traditionally, the husband had a duty to provide a safe house, pay for necessities such as food and clothing, and live in the house. The wife's obligations were maintaining a home, living in the home, having sexual relations with her husband, and rearing the couple's children. Today the underlying concept that marriage is a legal contract still remains but due to changes in society the legal obligations are not the same. Marriage is chiefly regulated by the states. The Supreme Court has held that states are permitted to reasonably regulate the institution by prescribing who is allowed to marry, and how the marriage can be dissolved. Entering into a marriage changes the legal status of both parties and gives both husband and...