Marriage Foundation wins appeal for charitable status

The foundation, set up by the High Court judge Sir Paul Coleridge to educate people about marriage and its benefits, had its initial application turned down last year

Sir Paul Coleridge
Sir Paul Coleridge

The Charity Commission has granted charitable status to the Marriage Foundation after reconsidering its earlier refusal.

The foundation, set up by the High Court judge Sir Paul Coleridge with the primary aim of educating people about marriage and its benefits for children, adults and society, was refused by the commission after its initial application last year.

In a final decision case summary published on the regulator’s website on Wednesday, the commission said it turned down the original application because it decided that the objects described in the foundation’s application were not exclusively charitable and "that it was concerned to promote marriage rather than simply educate the public about it".

The foundation applied for a decision review and – after meeting foundation representatives – a commission lawyer concluded that the original objects "did not accurately reflect the foundation’s purposes, which appeared to be exclusively charitable and for the public benefit".

The Marriage Foundation has since amended its objects and has been added to the register of charities. The objects now mention raising awareness of how successful relationships can be developed and strengthened, "including but not limited to married relationships."

Harry Benson, director of communications at the foundation, said he felt the commission had misinterpreted the foundation’s purposes on the original application.

"One of the things the commission was concerned about was the emphasis on marriage," he said. "But the reality is we are interested in stable relationships, strengthening families and reducing family breakdown."

Coleridge, who is a judge in the family division at the High Court, started the foundation last year in an attempt to reduce the levels of family breakdown. He has been backed by a long list of judges, legal experts and professionals.

The organisation wants to see fewer people drawn into the family justice system each year and reduce the numbers who go through the emotional pain and financial cost of broken relationships.

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