Cohabitation: Current Legal Solutions

Current Legal Problems, Vol. 316

Warwick School of Law Research

32 Pages Posted: 14 Nov 2009

See all articles by Rebecca Probert

Rebecca Probert

University of Warwick - School of Law


This paper considers the arguments that have been advanced to justify giving cohabitants the same rights as married couples, and suggests a number of reasons for caution: first, the fact that these are uncharted waters, given the relative novelty of cohabitation as a family form; secondly, the evidence that suggests that a ‘functional’ approach may actually justify rules privileging marriage; and, thirdly, the indications that the law may indeed play a role in individual decisions. It then goes on to review recent developments in the areas of contract, property and family law and to re-evaluate their potential to meet the needs of cohabiting couples, viewed in the light of the demographic background. It concludes by advocating incremental change combined with a more wide-ranging review of the legal treatment of marriage and cohabitation.

Keywords: cohabitation contracts, constructive trusts, family home, common-law marriage, functional family law

Suggested Citation

Probert, Rebecca, Cohabitation: Current Legal Solutions. Current Legal Problems, Vol. 316, Warwick School of Law Research, Available at SSRN:

Rebecca Probert (Contact Author)

University of Warwick - School of Law ( email )

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