Cohabitation and Intestacy: Public Opinion and Law Reform

Child and Family Law Quarterly, Vol. 20, No. 4, pp. 499-521, 2008

Posted: 20 Sep 2010

See all articles by Catherine Williams

Catherine Williams

University of Sheffield

Garfield Gary Potter

London South Bank University

Gillian Douglas

The Dickson Poon School of Law

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Date Written: December 20, 2008

Abstract

In 2007, in its Final Report on the financial consequences of cohabitation, the Law Commission decided not to recommend any changes to the intestacy rules to cover for the situation where a cohabitant's partner dies. However, in June 2008, it announced that it would undertake a general review of this area of the law. This article reviews the current law and reports on a large survey of public opinion on the position of surviving cohabitants, conducted by students at the Universities of Sheffield and Cardiff. The findings clearly show that a large majority of the general public would support some automatic provision being made for a surviving cohabitant, with a greater share being felt appropriate both the longer the relationship had lasted and if the partners had had children. It is concluded that, given what we believe to be the current unfair state of the law, coupled with the ight levels of support for provision from the general public, the Law Commission should examine very thoroughly the scope and feasibility of extending the intestacy rules to cover surviving cohabitants.

Suggested Citation

Williams, Catherine and Potter, Garfield Gary and Douglas, Gillian, Cohabitation and Intestacy: Public Opinion and Law Reform (December 20, 2008). Child and Family Law Quarterly, Vol. 20, No. 4, pp. 499-521, 2008, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1679808

Catherine Williams

University of Sheffield ( email )

17 Mappin Street
Sheffield, Sheffield S1 4DT
United Kingdom

Garfield Gary Potter

London South Bank University ( email )

103 Borough Road
London, Greater London SE1 OAA
United Kingdom

Gillian Douglas (Contact Author)

The Dickson Poon School of Law ( email )

Somerset House East Wing
Strand Campus
London, WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom
+44 (0)2078481367 (Phone)

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