Why Don’t They Marry? Cohabitation, Commitment and DIY Marriage

16 Pages Posted: 27 Mar 2012

See all articles by Simon Duncan

Simon Duncan

Lecturer in Social Science and Humanities, University of Bradford

Anne Barlow

University of Exeter - School of Law

Grace James

University of Reading - School of Law

Date Written: March 27, 2012

Abstract

This article asks why cohabitants do not marry, when it would seem to be advantageous for them to do so. First, we examine the influence of the ‘common law marriage myth’, the mistaken but widespread belief that cohabitants gain marriage-like rights through living together for a certain time. Finding that this does not provide an adequate explanation for the social prevalence and acceptance of cohabitation, we then examine alternative rationalities, looking in turn at commitment in cohabiting partnerships, and how cohabitants use ‘lived law’ to create a DIY variety of marriage, as well as an alternative to it.

Keywords: family law, child law, cohabitation

Suggested Citation

Duncan, Simon and Barlow, Anne Elizabeth and James, Grace, Why Don’t They Marry? Cohabitation, Commitment and DIY Marriage (March 27, 2012). Child and Family Law Quarterly, Vol. 17, No. 3, pp. 383-398, 2005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2029619

Simon Duncan (Contact Author)

Lecturer in Social Science and Humanities, University of Bradford ( email )

Bradford
Bradford, West Yorkshire BD9 4JL
United States

Anne Elizabeth Barlow

University of Exeter - School of Law ( email )

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

Grace James

University of Reading - School of Law ( email )

Reading, RG6 6AH
United Kingdom

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