Marriage details - for same-sex marriages, need to clarify whether end date is due to own death or spouse's death

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  • Updated 2 years ago
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A situation has arisen that probably wasn't envisaged a few years ago when the Marriages form was devised. When a marriage ends with the death of the person in question or their spouse, the options are "his death" and "her death". For a mixed-sex marriage it is obvious whose death is being referred to: if the person is male, then "her death" relates to his wife, and conversely for a female person and "his death".

But when two men or two women are married (some countries now recognise this), "his death" or "her death" could refer either to the person or their spouse.

I wonder whether the options in the form need to modified to "his/her death" and "spouse's death" to avoid ambiguity.
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Posted 2 years ago

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Michelle, Official Rep

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Hi Martin -

Thanks for sharing your feedback and observations regarding the listing of spouse details.

Currently, the reason why we display "his death" or "her death" is due to technical limitations within our system, however, we are always striving to find better ways to display information and this is a good use case to argue for an update of our systems.  I have passed along your feedback to the appropriate team for visibility, as soon as I have an update on whether or not we can prioritize this change I will let you know here.
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Michelle, Official Rep :
Currently, the reason why we display "his death" or "her death" ...
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? ?

No samples from Martin

Make it something like John's death... Mary's death


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The one problem that I can see is that data submitted up to now will say "his death" or "her death", and data submitted after the change (if it happens to be approved!) will say "own death" or "spouse's death". There would need to be a mass change of historic data so old and new was consistent with the new validation rules, inferring that if the subject is male, "her"="spouse" and "his"="own", and vice versa for a female subject. But you'd need to exclude the case where there is a same-sex marriage, when you would have an ambiguity. That's easy to detect if the spouse also has an IMDB entry, but not if the spouse isn't from the TV/movie trade and so doesn't have an entry. Maybe in that case you look for the end-date of the marriage matching the death date of the subject, and infer from that whose death was being referred to.

What started out as simple has just become more complicated...