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Family

If the Human Rights Act is about protecting the individual, then the freedom to found a family is one of its cornerstones.

There could be challenges against the current definition of "parental responsibility" which differentiates between married couples and unmarried couples.

Parents who live apart from former partners are expected to bring cases demanding better access to children, following a European Court ruling supporting equal rights.

Couples who are not married may challenge legislation which financially penalises them for remaining out of wedlock, such as the rules governing pensions. Perhaps one of the most significant shifts in the law which may emerge from the HRA is that children could have the right to challenge a local authority for not making a care order to protect them from inhuman or degrading treatment; a case pending at the European Court may clarify what legal rights children may be entitled to.

Courts considering care order applications may also be obliged to weigh up an application from a parent alleging that their right to enjoy family life has been breached.

The Human Rights Act has no specific family provisions for homosexual couples but campaigners say challenges may emerge, depending on how judges interpret the Act in the years to come.
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