“He got down on one knee”: intellectual disability, intimacy and family law

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Colleges, School and Institutes


This chapter draws on interviews with intellectually disabled people about their experiences of everyday legally relevant decision-making to explore the multiple sociolegal dimensions of decision-making around intimate relationships and marriage by intellectually disabled people (here understood to include people with learning disabilities, brain injuries and other cognitive impairments). After a brief introduction and methodological note, I contrast legal responses to sexual relations, marriage and divorce with disabled people’s stories about how these things have influenced their lives. Through this analysis, I challenge the construction of disabled people as vulnerable subjects, to be protected by and through family law. Instead, I argue for accessible family law frameworks that allow disabled people to enjoy their legal rights, relationships and family lives.

Bibliographic note

Publisher Copyright: © 2021 selection and editorial matter, Beverley Clough and Jonathan Herring; individual chapters, the contributors.


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDisability, Care and Family Law
EditorsBeverley Clough, Jonathan Herring
Publication statusPublished - 13 Apr 2021


  • Disability, Divorce, Marriage, Sexual Relationships