As a Diversity Champion and former Family Law solicitor, this recent change not only made me smile, but made me reach for the phone and speak to Jacqueline Major, our Head of Family Law. An important part of getting married is to celebrate with our loved ones, and to thank those that have spent 2, 3, 4 decades providing care and love in order to reach a moment where we join with another to start a wedded life. This blog looks to the movement and change in another step towards women’s equality and the acknowledgment of a role of a female, the mother, in something ceremonial which has been overlooked for centuries.
Surely, to thank those whom have raised you and provided you that love and care, would mean that both are recognised and their “roles” being signed and acknowledged. Well, not until 2021 has this been the case. Finally, the notion of marriage registration and the acknowledgment of a mother being equal to the father in this arena is a long overdue move into the 21st Century that has now taken place.
Up until now, the marriage certificate only included the name of the father of the couple, and this has been the same position since 1837 when marriage certificates were first introduced to record marriages. However, as at May 2021 not only are marriage certificates going to be recorded and registered electronically, but details of both parents will be included in the marriage certificate, not just the father.
The Home Office has called this change to “correct a historic anomaly” – and how accurate is it, that a mother who perhaps desires or bears her child for 9 months, and likely to provide that primary care, has now acknowledgment or reference when their child goes on to wed. Historian Dr Charlotte Lydia Riley tweeted: “Oh yes. The only patriarchal thing about marriage is the fact that mother’s names weren’t on the marriage certificate. Now that’s solved it’s like the patriarchy is just a distant dream”.
For so many lone parent mothers, what a difficult proposition and prospect has that been for them. Just to imagine how a bride, groom or their mother felt on the day they were to register with an absent father, something that could dampen an otherwise intended joyous occasion.
Unlike England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland already implemented the inclusion of both parents in the marriage documentation and included this for civil partners as well, and so as a Diversity Champion I welcome and celebrate this change and look forward to the next changes that are being made.
I’ll leave the final words to my colleague Jacqueline Major: “I agree with our Diversity Champion Bahareh that this is a very positive step forwards for gender equality. Mothers and Fathers have parental responsibility for their children until they are 18, and what every diligent and loving parent wishes and strives for their child is health and happiness.
“When that child becomes an adult and makes a decision to marry, which is one of the most significant and happy events in life, it is right that the Mother’s name should be alongside the Father’s on that key document, the marriage certificate.”