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Cohabiting relationships, money and property: The legal backdrop


  • Barlow, Anne


Unlike most European jurisdictions where the law imposes a system of 'community of property', in English law marrying or entering a civil partnership has no legal effect on a couple's property. Neither does cohabitation. However, on relationship breakdown family law provides for redistribution of income and assets between the parties for those divorcing or dissolving their civil partnership at the court's discretion. Yet for separating cohabiting couples, a more rigid property law determines the outcome irrespective of the couple's financial practices during the relationship. At a time when there is a call for greater harmonisation of Family Law within Europe, the English Law Commission are considering reform of the law relating to financial provision for cohabiting couples. Drawing on empirical research into attitudes towards community of property, this article considers how far the current legal treatment of money and relationships remains appropriate to 21st century coupledom.

Suggested Citation

  • Barlow, Anne, 2008. "Cohabiting relationships, money and property: The legal backdrop," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 502-518, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:soceco:v:37:y:2008:i:2:p:502-518

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. M. V. Lee Badgett, 1995. "Gender, sexuality, and sexual orientation: All in the feminist family?," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 1(1), pages 121-139.
    2. Pahl, Jan, 1995. "His money, her money: Recent research on financial organisation in marriage," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 361-376, September.
    3. Burgoyne, Carole B. & Reibstein, Janet & Edmunds, Anne & Dolman, Valda, 2007. "Money management systems in early marriage: Factors influencing change and stability," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 214-228, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Raijas, Anu, 2011. "Money management in blended and nuclear families," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 556-563, August.
    2. Kulic, Nevena, 2013. "The type and duration of family unions and income sharing: The implications for women's economic well-being," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 7-15.

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