Langley v Bradford Metropolitan District Council and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions: CA 15 Oct 2004

It was discriminatory to treat differently homosexual and heterosexual couples when considering liability for child support payments. Sedley LJ: ‘The broad effect of the material provisions is to allocate the financial responsibility of separated parents for the maintenance of their children by pooling the absent parent’s income and outgoings with those of his or her new partner if, but only if, that partner is of the opposite sex. For same-sex couples this means that the one who is an absent parent is assessed as if living alone, with generally disadvantageous consequences.’ and ‘Putting it schematically, the child support scheme sets out to respect family life by making allowance for the joint expenses of an absent parent’s new household. It is this, without regard to discrimination, which brings the measure within the ambit of article 8. If then the scheme discriminates between one family unit and another on the ground of its members’ sexuality, article 14 too becomes engaged. Here, by treating their finances as wholly separate when they are not, and by consequently assessing M’s child support payment at a higher sum that if theirs was a heterosexual partnership, the scheme manifests a different level of respect for their family life.’
Neuberger LJ: ‘the reduction in liability effected by regulation 11 is accorded for the purpose of ensuring that that absent parent’s new family is not so deprived of money that it is significantly detrimentally affected by the liability of the absent parent to pay child support. To my mind, it follows from this that M has made good her case that the relevant provision, of which she does not have the benefit because she is in a same sex, rather than a heterosexual, relationship, was enacted out of respect for family life, the family life in question being that of the absent parent and his/her new partner.’


Lord Justice Kennedy Lord Justice Sedley Lord Justice Neuberger


[2004] EWCA (Civ) 1343, Times 11-Nov-2004


England and Wales

Cited by:

Appeal FromSecretary of State for Work and Pensions v M HL 8-Mar-2006
The respondent’s child lived with the estranged father for most of each week. She was obliged to contribute child support. She now lived with a woman, and complained that because her relationship was homosexual, she had been asked to pay more than . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Child Support, Discrimination

Updated: 30 April 2022; Ref: scu.218841