Human Sacrifice and Financial Support For Family Members. [Children Are Not Just For Christmas?]
An interesting case in September this year. Sometimes the Court is asked to give its help in cases where the initial response of most of us might be – “that’s just ridiculous.”
As the Judge put it – “This is a most unusual case. Indeed, so far as I am aware, and the very experienced counsel who appear before me do not dispute this, the case is unprecedented.
“Certainly, the researches of counsel have identified no decision directly in point. The applicant’s own description is that his applications are “novel.”
“I suspect that the initial reaction of most experienced family lawyers would be a robust disbelief that there is even arguable substance to any of it.”
Again, another judge is quoted as saying that sometimes – “the absence of authority only illustrates the tendency for propositions of universal acceptance to be difficult to support by reference to authority.”
He means that some things are not stated in the laws of the Country because, – why would anyone need to write down what is already obvious and right?.
Of course, a “proposition of universal acceptance” will vary from community to community, and over the years.
None of us in Yorkshire believe that in order to keep the Sun moving across the sky and preserve our very lives, it is necessary to feed Huitzilopochtli with blood and torn-out human hearts still beating. (Well – except perhaps in Sheffield – but I never go there).
And again, perhaps that’s why it rains here all the time.
The need for human sacrifice is no longer a “proposition of universal acceptance”. And yet, in Aztec society it was.
Wikipedia tells me that up to 1% of the population per year were killed for the sun god. And whilst this is all over now, it only stopped in 1512. The same century that William Shakespeare was born.
In geological terms, it’s practically yesterday. In 1487, over 80 thousand people were sacrificed.
Another proposition of “universal acceptance” for hundreds of years in Christian Countries was that two persons of the same sex could not marry.
Not because it was against the law specifically – There wasn’t a law against it in England. The 1949 Marriage Act [link here] had a whole list of persons whom a Man could not marry. For example, his Mother or Daughter. But the entire list had one characteristic – they were all female.
Which would seem to mean, that in 1950 in England a man could marry a man. Or perhaps even his own father?
But though there wasn’t a law against it, in a country where sex between males would result in social rejection and indeed imprisonment until the 1960s there hardly needed to be, it was just – universally accepted.
And yet what is “universally accepted” now? In the space of a few hundred years we have gone from believing universally that human sacrifice is clearly necessary, and that criminalisation of homosexuality is clearly necessary, to believing the exact opposite.
So sometimes when we live in the forest, we can’t see any trees.
What’s this case then?
It is the snappily named – for reasons of anonymity- FS v JS and RS  EWFC 63.
In it, a 41 year-old man (called “F”) brought an application to the Courts for an order that his wealthy parents should be required to pay him money for his food accommodation and lifestyle.
His parents are both alive and live together happily. It seems that they have got fed up with their son, or at least with his lifestyle choices.
The evidence given is that F is a “vulnerable person”. He has mental health difficulties but not of the kind often referred to as “learning disabilities”. Indeed he is very bright. He is a qualified solicitor and has a master’s degree in Taxation and is now studying for Chartered Tax Advisor qualification.
It may be that he is perhaps preferring to live a life of learning and studying: – at any rate he is unemployed and has been for years. He lives in his parents’ London Flat whilst they live in Dubai. The parents pay for the utilities.
They seem to have got fed up with him in his “feathered nest” and they think he is old enough at 41 to stop living on their charity.
He says that his parents have been “nurturing his dependency on them for the last 20 years or so” so that they should not be allowed to throw him to the wolves of his own resources.
One can see that it must come as a shock, but most of us would perhaps say to him – in the words of Battery Sergeant Major Williams – “Oh Dear. BOO HOO. Never Mind”.
At any rate, in this society, here and now, the tenet “universally accepted” is that parents are allowed to require that their children fend for themselves. I can’t say exactly at what age, except that it is probably a good few years earlier than 41.
At first glance as “nonsensical” as the proposition that, there being no law against it, a Man might marry his Father, at second glance, well, maybe there is something here.
We are not told the nature of F’s vulnerability. There may be very good reasons, physical or mental, why he does not feel able to get a job. The court case didn’t get that far. The question stalled at whether an adult offspring can compel his parents to give him money.
The law is, NO, he can’t. His parents can both be rich as Croesus and he can be homeless on the street and it’s not their problem. And that is where we are today with our “universal acceptance”. And maybe in years to come we won’t think that way, I don’t know.
After all, even today if the parents were paying for his accommodation and support whilst he is studying, but were themselves divorcing, then the law recognises that divorce would impact on a child of the family even at age 41 and give that person rights in relation to maintenance claims. At least the right to be heard in court even if the attempt was turned down
So his argument to the Court was:- why should the fact that his parents are happily married impact to remove or nullify rights which the adult “child” would have if they were not?
Well, the Courts have considered, and they have rejected the claimed concept that parents are “locked in“ by law to maintaining their adult children, even if they have done so for several years. Or, as pleaded, specifically BECAUSE they have done so and thereby led him to believe that the support would never stop.
And if that decision was previously based upon only upon “universal assumption”, no longer.
As the Judge said – quoting the “grim humour” of another Judge in an early judgment in a similarly novel claim,
“It may be that there is no direct authority on this point; certainly none has been cited. If so, it is high time that there was such authority; and NOW THERE IS!”.
Here is the judgment [link here]
Of course, the reality is that nobody has won. By the time a family is fighting itself in the courts, it’s too late for winners.
And will we always think that parents need not maintain their vulnerable adult children? Give it five hundred years, we may think it’s as barbarous as those sacrifices.
A song about irreversible changes [Crossing the Rubicon Link]
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