Child Marriage? in an Economic World?

This guest blog post is thanks to Chelsea Harkins, Regent Law 2L and Oxford RSG Summer Program student:

Charlecote Park, Warwickshire, England: The beautiful grounds, serene location and nature surrounding this lovely home, were appealing at first glance. Now, being a home of The National Trust, Charlecote Park has history that runs within its ownership and familial lines. Sir Thomas Lucy came from a wealthy middle-class family and was knighted by one of the queen's favorite men, Robert Dudley, in 1565. Lucy built the home in 1558 and also later served as a member of the Parliament House after his election in 1571. Lucy married Joyce Acton, daughter and heiress of Thomas Acton of Sutton, Worcestershire. The marriage was arranged and both were very young, marrying at ages 12 and 14 years old. It is said that in 1572, Queen Elizabeth I herself visited Charlecote Park, staying in what is now known as the Drawing Room. It is also rumored that William Shakespeare poached rabbits on the land there.

When the young bride and heiress, Joyce Acton, was betrothed at the very young age of 12 to  Lucy, the Laws of Coverture required that all her financial assets, including the entire inherited estate from her family, all went to her husband.  To learn more about Joyce Action click here.

As I explored Charlecote I could not imagine being married so young, and growing up to live in such a place, while knowing that my heritage and wealth would also be invested in the home and property of my husband's family completely.

Child Marriage is surprisingly STILL occurring today in many parts of the world, despite its prohibition in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  An interesting topic for discussion for its economic impact, more importantly the notion of child marriage seems clear not to be in the best interest of any child; no girl or boy, or child of The King should have to endure such a fate at so early an age.

Before going to Charlecote Park, our class studied this subject and discussed all of the MANY arguments both for and against this type of marriage. There are several policy, health, educational, well-being, quality of life reasons why this should be banned and not allowed. As much as rules can be made, enforcement is key.

Therefore we need child advocates, voices to speak up for these children who do not have a voice for themselves.  There are organizations such as "girls not brides" etc. that are working on implementing legislation even within the United States borders to bar this practice from taking place. If anything, the Oxford-Regent class on Marriage Law & Economics has certainly opened my eyes and afforded me GREAT knowledge that will stick with me forever, encouraging me to continue to study more about these issues. So… this field trip to Charlecote Park was very eye opening and I am glad I had the opportunity to visit somewhere with such a fascinating history.

AND we had a lot of fun!!



Christian Leadership to change the World.



Marriage: Who defines the word?

This insightful guest post is from Kathleen Knudsen, Regent 3L and Family Law student:



“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master — that’s all.”

    Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

Recognized by philosophers and peasants alike, for millennia the word “marriage” meant something specific: the scared, physical, and legal union of a man and woman into a new family unit. In 1888, the United States Supreme Court, explained that marriage “is an institution, in the maintenance of which in its purity the public is deeply interested, for it is the foundation of the family and of society, without which there would be neither civilization nor progress.” Maynard v. Hill, 125 U.S. 190, 211 (1888).  To protect this interest, the Court then explained that marriage is “something more than a mere contract,” because, once the marital relationship is formed, “the law steps in and holds the parties to various obligations and liabilities.”  Id. 


Because this relationship carries special privileges and responsibilities, for centuries laws across all fifty states have imposed fairly consistent substantive requirements.  Traditionally, these requirements are dual gender parties, within the age of consent, monogamy, and an exclusion of marriages within a certain degree of blood or affinity.  Within a limited degree of variability, these requirements cross jurisdictional boundaries and have been inherent in some fashion in the definition of marriage for centuries.


Yet, two weeks ago, five people redefined the millennia-old word “marriage” for a nation of nearly 320 million individuals.  Justice Kennedy, joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan, ruled that marriage no longer required two genders, striking down a key substantive marriage requirement. The Court attempts a dance of legal finesse by striking down one substantive requirement (dual gender) upon the justification of another substantive requirement (monogamy). The Court declared that “the right to marry is fundamental because it supports a two-person union unlike any other in its importance to the committed individuals.” Unfortunately, a decision rationalized by a need for “equality,” “importance to the committed individuals,” “dignity,” “individual autonomy,” and the ability to provide individuals the opportunity to “find other freedoms,” among other similar reasons, provides little assurance that the remaining substantive marriage requirements have any more security than dominos at the end of a chain in which the first has already fallen.


In a live chat on the Washington Post website following the Obergefell decision, columnist Steven Petrow took questions about the decision and LGBT issues. One person asked, “What about the limit of marriage being between just two people. The claims could equally be made that marriage could be between three men, two men and a woman, one man and dozens of women. Will this end here or expand the definition of marriage?” Mr. Petrow’s response was insightful: “This is part of the fear-mongering and backlash to the marriage equality movement.” He went on to explain that there are already subtle differences among states regarding substantive marriage requirements. Unfortunately, he failed to mention that despite those subtle differences, the broad categorical requirements remain basically the same. And, the “fear-mongering” might just be more legitimate concerns than Mr. Petrow is willing to acknowledge.


With the dual gender requirement of marriage being repudiated in some Western nations around the world, individuals are now challenging the requirements of monogamy and relationship degree.  A government ethics committee in Germany announced last fall that incest laws “were an unacceptable intrusion into the right to sexual self-determination,” while a court in New York state held that a marriage between an half-uncle and niece was legal. In Montana, Nathan Collier and his “wives” Victoria and Christine applied for a marriage license in an attempt to legitimize their polygamous relationship. Nathan said that he was “inspired by . . . [the] decision legalizing gay marriage to apply for a marriage license so that he can legally wed his second wife.” His argument? His second wife deserves “legitimacy,” just like Mr. Obergefell’s partner did. According to the Court’s definition of marriage based on its “importance to the committed individuals,” it’s tough to explain how Mr. Collier’s justification is any different from Mr. Obergefell’s.


The German Ethics Council, in recommending that incest be made legal, said in a statement: “The fundamental right of adult siblings to sexual self-determination is to be weighed more heavily than the abstract idea of protection of the family.” (Emphasis added).  Today, protection of the family is becoming an abstract idea because the concept of the family itself is becoming abstract. Once we cease to be able to define marriage or the family unit, protecting it becomes far less important, and infinitely less achievable.


Who defines words? Right now, it appears that five unelected Justices of the Supreme Court can define words to mean whatever they want. As Humpty Dumpty said, “The question is which is to be master — that’s all.” Unfortunately, we all must live with the consequences of those definitions, which might very soon mean the legalization of polygamy and incest.


Regent Study on Teen Courts Presented in Vienna, Austria

As part of the 34th Annual International Congress on Law and Mental Health, I've been here at Sigmund Freud University in Vienna, Austria to present my work, "Teen Courts: Children Participating in Justice," available on the Social Science Research Network at http://ssrn.com/abstract=2605456.  This piecek is the result of original research done by students in the Child Advocacy Practicum and the Center for Global Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law at Regent University School of Law, and is published as Chapter 12 of International Perspectives and Empirical Findings on Child Participation: From Social Exclusion to Child-Inclusive Policies (Oxford University Press 2015).

Freud's work on psychoanalysis helped to form the beginnings of mental health as a science, though designed to counter a Judeo Christian biblical paradigm of human reason and the soul, missing the mark for human longing.  A child's participation in justice, however, provides exactly the example for development of a solid understanding of reason in a context of law, faith and family restoration.  Find out how at http://ssrn.com/abstract=2605456

Image result for sigmund freud university



United Nations Votes for Family & Marrriage

In the wake of the decision to redefine marriage from the United States' highest court, the United Nations (UN) took up a vote on marriage and family, and overwhelmingly passed an 'unprecedented' pro-family resolution endorsing the conjugal nature of marriage as the basis for a family, and endorsing parental rights to educate children. You can read the full article at https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/un-passes-unprecedented-pro-family-resolution-outraging-sexual-radicals, or read  a clip from the article below:

Featured Image


GENEVA, July 9, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – A pro-family resolution has been passed by the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva of "unprecedented" force and reach, thanks to a coalition of African and other developing countries, China and Russia and a support group of socially conservative NGOs.... "This is unprecedented, a tremendous victory for the family," Sharon Slater, the head of Family Watch International, told LifeSiteNews. "It is the first time ever in the history of the United Nations that a comprehensive resolution has been passed calling for the protection of the family as a fundamental unit of society, recognizing the prior right of parents to educate their children, and calling on all nations to create family-sensitive policies and recognize their binding obligations under treaty to protect the family."  The voting on the "Protection of the Family" resolution was 27 for and 14 against.... Those opposing the motion included the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland and other Western European countries, while its sponsors included Russia, China, Belarus, and more than a dozen Muslim and African countries. The four abstaining members of the council—Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Macedonia—probably were forced to do so by the rich countries opposing the bill.


The article continues with a discussion about the importance of the family to global policies of sustainable development. Regent Law has been training students to work for family strength and restoration, and that's precisely what the UN adopted measure does for global family ideals.  So while a few western nations work to expand and dilute marriage, a good portion of the rest of the world has voted under great pressure to preserve it. In fact, the family is not only important to sustainable development of nations around the globe who are working to protect their native ecological habitats, the family is actually central to that objective.  Set out on Part 3 of the article at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2551305 human trafficking scholar Prof. Kathleen McKee and I explain how policies that focus on the environment can often work to the detriment of families, burdening those families and placing at risk women and children.  In Part I of that article we discuss population declines in various nations, largely due to family breakdown in those nations - the very nations that voted for the Resolution, likely understanding how the loss of the strong family has in fact weakened national strength.  The UN vote for marriage and family is a step forward for family restoration and strong nations.