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The legal status of de facto relationships

Date:25 NOV 2021
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Graeme Fraser, Partner and Head of Family, OGR Stock Denton LLP

In 2021, a major comparative project was launched analysing the legal protection afforded to cohabitants in over 40 countries. In this article, I examine how the rules and discretionary remedies in Israel, New Zealand and the USA may inform future cohabitation policy and practice in England and Wales. In Israel, religious compliance is at heart and centre of its rigid marriage laws, so unsurprisingly, laws needed to evolve to allow rights for de facto relationships. In New Zealand, defining de facto relationships involves having regard to the parties’ circumstances, while the purpose of the law in question is relevant. Some couples are however unaware they are in a qualifying de facto regime. The USA is rightly often described as an incredibly complex patchwork quilt because although the overwhelming majority of jurisdictions do not recognise de facto relationships, some expansion of rights is occurring. The ULC has been developing the UCERA, which enables contractual and economic claims based on contributions to the relationship. Adoption of the UCERA in progressive jurisdictions in the USA could pave the way for the introduction of similar discretionary remedies based on relationship generated disadvantage in England and Wales. 


The full article will be published in the December issue of Family Law

 

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