Book Chapter

Unmarried cohabitation



Sutherland E (2020) Unmarried cohabitation. In: George R & Eekelaar J (eds.) Routledge Handbook of Family Law and Policy. 2nd ed. Oxford: Routledge, pp. 61-70.

This volume provides a global perspective on the policy challenges facing family law and policy round the world. This chapter offers critical analysis of approaches taken by a range of legal systems to unmarried cohabitation. As more couples live together without formalising their relationship many legal systems around the world have 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. 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.

cohabitation; marriage; comparative law; human rights

Publication date27/07/2020
Publication date online27/07/2020
Publisher URL…ok/9780367195526
Place of publicationOxford

People (1)


Professor Elaine Sutherland

Professor Elaine Sutherland

Emeritus Professor, Law