Unmarried Cohabitation

Authored by: Elaine E. Sutherland

Routledge Handbook of Family Law and Policy

Print publication date:  July  2020
Online publication date:  July  2020

Print ISBN: 9780367195526
eBook ISBN: 9781003058519
Adobe ISBN:


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As more couples live together without formalizing their relationship many legal systems around the world have been re-examining what, if any, legal consequences should attach to intimate, non-marital cohabitation. The issue is often brought into sharp focus when the relationship ends, either through separation or the death of one of the parties, but it may also be significant while the parties are together, particularly for matters like domestic abuse protection, state benefits and taxation. The diversity of couples who cohabit and their reasons for doing so present a particular challenge to legal systems and divergent responses are found around the world. 1 That divergence is prompted by very different views about the role of the legal system in regulating intimate relationships and the debate often juxtaposes party autonomy and protecting the vulnerable.

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