The Uniform Cohabitants’ Economic Remedies Act: Codifying and Strengthening Contract and Equity for Nonmarital Partners
Family Law Quarterly, forthcoming
17 Pages Posted: 7 Apr 2023
Date Written: April 4, 2023
In 2021 the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) gave final approval to the Uniform Cohabitants' Economic Remedies Act (UCERA). The Act provides a framework for resolving economic disputes between nonmarital cohabitants at the end of their cohabitation, whether the end is brought about by separation or by death. In light of the variations in state law approaches across the United States, the steady increase in the number of adults living within nonmarital relationships, and the inevitable mobility of the population, the ULC concluded that a uniform statutory framework could provide needed clarity, predictability, and stability for this sizable demographic group.
In drafting a uniform law for this realm, the ULC kept its sights on the broad diversity of cohabiting relationships and the need to avoid assumptions about cohabitants’ intent. The ULC took up the drafting project on cohabitants’ remedies in part because of the benefits to the general public of having a clear statutory standard, readily accessible in a state’s code. The goal was to ensure both predictability and broader understanding.
This Article describes the development of UCERA, with attention to the policy choices made by the ULC along the way. After a brief overview of the law governing cohabitants’ economic rights, we turn to the drafting of UCERA and explain the changes within successive drafts as the Drafting Committee worked toward achieving consensus. We also discuss particular provisions of UCERA itself and the Act’s intended operation. The complete text of the Act is provided in the Appendix.
Keywords: nonmarital partners, cohabitants, remedies
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