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This article contains a critical analysis of the way in which a concept of non-marriage has been incorporated into English law. Those authorities are based on the proposition that a marriage will be a non-marriage, as opposed to a void marriage, if the parties have not sought to engage to the requirements of the Marriage Acts. The author argues that these authorities, including the Court of Appeal decision in Sharbatly v Shagroon  EWCA Civ 1507,  1 FLR 1493, have failed to pay sufficient regard to the earlier law of nullity, the statutory jurisdiction of the Family Division and The Family Law Act 1986. The recent law on non-marriage means that the financially weaker spouse to such marriages will not be entitled to apply for financial relief. As the majority of applicants in other cases are women it is suggested that the law on non-marriage is discriminatory. It is also suggested that stigmatising ceremonies allegedly creative of marriage as non-marriage devalues valid religious marriage.
The full version of this article appears in the October 2013 issue of Family Law.