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Cohabitation and intestacy: public opinion and law reform

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2008
<mark>Journal</mark>Child and Family Law Quarterly
Issue number4
Volume2008
Number of pages23
Pages (from-to)499-521
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

In 2007, in its Final Report on the financial consequences of cohabitation, the Law Commission decided not to recommend any changes to the intestacy rules to cover for the situation where a cohabitant's partner dies. However, in June 2008, it announced that it would undertake a general review of this area of the law. This article reviews the current law and reports on a large survey of public opinion on the position of surviving cohabitants, conducted by students at the Universities of Sheffield and Cardiff. The findings clearly show that a large majority of the general public would support some automatic provision being made for a surviving cohabitant, with a greater share being felt appropriate both the longer the relationship had lasted and if the partners had had children. It is concluded that, given what we believe to be the current unfair state of the law, coupled with the high levels of support for provision from the general public, the Law Commission should examine very thoroughly the scope and feasibility of extending the intestacy rules to cover surviving cohabitants.