Regulation of Cohabitation, Changing Family Policies and Social Attitudes: A Discussion of Britain Within Europe



This article considers the differing legal and policy responses to the common trends of family restructuring away from marriage within Britain and Europe. Conceding that Europe is in the process of losing heterosexual marriage as a universal epicenter of family law at the very time when legal harmonization within Europe is being promoted, it goes on to explore the best way forward for regulating same- and different-sex cohabiting couples. It concludes that the legal response to these trends should be “de-moralized” but principled. A plurality of legal regulative structures to accommodate the now diverse family forms that are found within our less marriage-centric societies should be put in place providing at least some default protection for all families, yet allowing people to opt out and make their own arrangements.