Luke and Leia – A New Hope
The daughter of Jedi Knight, Anakin Skywalker and Senator Padmé Amidala of Naboo, Leia was the younger twin sister of Luke Skywalker, and, shortly after her birth, she became the adopted daughter of Bail Organa and Queen Breha of Alderaan, making her a Princess of Alderaan.
We have discussed annulment of marriage before on our blog, here but we thought it was worth revisiting in view of the new Star Wars file – The Force Awakens. It is something that could well have happened to Luke and Leia, who in the first of the original trilogy Star Wars IV – A New Hope met for the first time (or so they thought). Luke seemed to have a soft spot for the Princess, who whilst she obviously had feelings for him, seemed to favour Han Solo. Luckily.
Separated at Birth
It is very rare for twins to be separated at birth, not to meet again at all or until some considerable time later. Most recently, brothers George Skrzynecky and Lucian Poznanski were reunited after 68 years apart. They were born in Germany in 1946 but when their Polish mother was freed from a labour camp at the end of World War II she could not look after them and they were adopted separately. They were later reunited, but not until 68 years had passed. Read more about their emotional reunion here.
The Evening Standard reported on the harrowing case of a married couple who discovered that they were in fact siblings. The report is here.
The couple were twins separated at birth, but who later got married without knowing they were brother and sister. They petitioned to the High Court upon discovering the fact, and were granted an annulment on the basis that the marriage was legally invalid. It is not permissible in law for siblings to marry each other.
The case illustrates the trauma that can be caused by separating twins at birth, and for them to not know their biological parents. The law does not automatically grant someone the right to know their biological parent, and it can result in extreme cases such as this.
The Original Trilogy
This is not the only possibility though, in light of medical advances. Here, the BBC reported on the girl with three biological parents.
Alana Saarinen has the DNA from 3 different people. She is one of only 30 – 50 people worldwide to have the DNA from 3 people – the mitochondria from three individuals which make up her own DNA.
More recently, Sir James Munby has given judgment in a case involving a mix up of embryos. The case involved multiple claimants for declarations in respect of their parentage. In Re Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 (Cases A, B, C, D, E, F, G and H)  EWHC 2602 (Fam),  All ER (D) 57 (Sep) the applicants were all parents of children conceived through fertility treatment. Each of those parents thought that they were the parent of their child. But due to administrative errors by the various clinics involved, they were not.
Under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 the requirements for establishing parenthood are as follows:
1. Consents must be given in writing before the treatment, both by the woman and by her partner—the forms required (in accordance with directions given by the HFEA) are form WP, to be completed by the woman, and form PP, to be completed by her partner; and
2. Both the woman and her partner must be given adequate information and offered counselling
However in this case, the requisite consents had not been obtained by the clinics, which resulted in the non-biological parents not having any legal relationship with their children.
Munby J decided that the issue should be addressed by way of declarations of parentage under S.55A of the Family Law Act 1996.
Munby J made 3 observations for clinics (and practitioners alike) to follow in cases where children are conceived by donor sperm and consent is required:
1. Forms WP/PP must be completed properly, and at the right time—this fundamental requirement and the potentially dire legal consequences of non-compliance should be made more emphatically and in starker language;
2. The imperative need for all fertility clinics to comply with the HFEA’s guidance and directions, in particular in relation to the use of forms WP/PP; and
3. Within fertility clinics and before the treatment starts, completed forms WP/PP need to be checked by one person (a member of the clinical team) and then re-checked by another person (entirely separate from the clinical team, whose sole function is to go through the document in minute detail and to draw attention to even the slightest non-compliance with the requirements).
A stark example of what can happen when basic mistakes are made and one which those clinics will no doubt never hope to make again.
The Dark Side
Anakin and Padmé certainly knew about the conception, but clearly Luke and Leia were kept on the Dark Side when it came to knowing about their own family.
Use the Force
For more details on this or any other family law matter, please do not hesitate to contact James or Frank. Paradigm Family Law offers a free initial consultation and our fixed fee solutions cover financial proceedings from start to finish. You can call us on 0845 6020422 or email us to [email protected]. You can also follow us on twitter and LinkedIn and Facebook for the latest news and views on family law.