Family Law – It’s In The Game

We were more than a little surprised to hear that University of Glasgow academics are developing a board game to help the public negotiate the complex legal world of marriage.

The new board game prototype is called Legally Wed. It has been inspired by the work of academics at the university’s School of Law – Professor Jane Mair, Dr Frankie McCarthy and Felicity Belton.

The academics have drawn on their research in family law and the personal wedding stories of family and friends to create the game’s tasks and challenges, which mirror real-life wedding mishaps on the way to the big day.

Players will have to race to plan their wedding and be first up the aisle to win the game. Along the way, in addition to choosing venues, food, outfits and the other trappings of a modern-day wedding, players must complete all the steps required for a legal marriage. If not, no matter how good they look in their Insta story, they will end the day without a spouse.

The team received funding from the Economic and Social Research Council Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) Business Booster Fund to develop their board game prototype.

Dr McCarthy, a senior lecturer in law, said: “We weren’t trying to make a game initially. But we have always been interested in different ways of engaging our students in the area of family law we all work in.

“For example, our first year family law course is assessed by a case study where students have to give legal advice to a family who encounter increasingly ridiculous (but fairly real-life) scenarios throughout the semester. We like it because it requires the students to provide very detailed and accurate legal advice. But it is a bit like a soap opera or a very dysfunctional Mills & Boon serialisation.

“In 2016 we took part in a public engagement festival to engage with our law research and the idea of a board game evolved as a simple and eye-catching idea which would be fun and interactive.”

Ms Belton, research & teaching associate, said: “Games and puzzles have been around for centuries: they are fun, they are educational, they are inter-generational, and they are a focus for creativity, communication and cultural development.

“While recent decades have been dominated by computer games, ‘old-fashioned’ board games are currently experiencing a revival.

“We think this new board game is a great way to help raise public awareness of some of the complexity of the law around marriage.”

The team will continue to develop the prototype and hope it will be available for sale in 2020 for the public.

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