Regulating Marriage and Cohabitation in 21st Century Britain
Modern Law Review (2004) 67(2) 143-176
Posted: 7 Jun 2013
Date Written: 2004
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
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