Examining the Future of Marriage


   School of Law

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  Dr Frances Hamilton  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

There have been many important changes to the regulation of marriage and recognised relationships in recent years. These include the introduction of no-fault divorce in 2022 (following the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020), same-sex marriage in 2013 and civil partnership in 2004 which opened civil partnership to heterosexual couples following the Supreme Court decision in Steinfield and Keidan [2018]. Following concerns about forced marriages and child marriages, the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Act 2022 increased the minimum age of marriage to 18. Whilst for some marriage continues to retain a fundamental role in their lives, for others its significance is declining. According to the Office of National Statistics just over half the adult population of England and Wales is married. However, the average age of marriage is now 40. Those in same-sex marriages may not have these recognised internationally, as worldwide over 70 countries criminalise same-sex relationships and on a European Court of Human Rights’ basis, although contracting countries are now required to legalise civil partnership, they retain a discretion to legalise same-sex marriage. In England and Wales, religious organisations are protected by a quadruple lock and are not bound to marry same-sex couples, unless the religious organisation has opted in (and even then this is not a possibility for the Church of England).

This PhD investigates the future of marriage. Whilst some have campaigned for access to marriage, others have argued that marriage is forever interconnected with patriarchal baggage (and the historical reality that on marriage women ceased to exist as legal persons) and that it should be left to die out. Queer theorists also reject marriage as a goal as they believe this means lesbians and gays are forced within an institution which does not suit their lifestyles. Your PhD could choose to focus on areas such as, but not limited to: queer and feminist views on marriage, the age at which a person is able to marry, forced marriage, the impact of no-fault divorce legislation, religious marriages, the future of civil partnership, polygamy or comparative laws when considering the recognition of marriages abroad. In addition to determining the focus of the research, candidates should also consider whether they wish to take an historical, doctrinal, socio-legal or comparative approach to the methodology, and should set this out within their proposal.

Applicants should meet the University’s entry requirements.


Law (22)

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 About the Project