Regulating Marriage and Cohabitation in 21st Century Britain

Modern Law Review (2004) 67(2) 143-176

Posted: 7 Jun 2013

See all articles by Anne Barlow

Anne Barlow

University of Exeter - School of Law

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Date Written: 2004

Abstract

This article assesses the legal regulation of marriage and cohabitation in Britain and outlines a growing need and desire for the currently confused law to be amended despite what has been termed 'the normal chaos of family law'. It adds to the topical debate about 'couple regulation' and argues that law should protect the function rather than the form of relationships. This argument is supported by recent Nuffield Foundation funded research, which draws on a major attitudinal survey of over 3000 respondents' views about marriage, cohabitation and the law and a number of in-depth interviews with current and former cohabitants. This research supports the view that cohabitation is now an accepted parenting and partnering structure across Britain, and that this ought to be reflected in a 'reflexive' approach to legal regulation in this sphere.

Keywords: cohabitation, marriage, family law reform

Suggested Citation

Barlow, Anne Elizabeth, Regulating Marriage and Cohabitation in 21st Century Britain (2004). Modern Law Review (2004) 67(2) 143-176. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1857065

Anne Elizabeth Barlow (Contact Author)

University of Exeter - School of Law ( email )

Streatham Court
University of Exeter
Exeter, EX4 4QJ
United Kingdom

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