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Til Death Do Us Part: Inheritance Claims and the Short Marriage

Date:4 APR 2006

James H Maguire, Partner, Cobbetts LLP, Manchester and Ed Frankland, Partner, Cobbetts LLP, Manchester. There is a real difference between a marriage which ends on death rather than divorce. A divorce involves a conscious decision by at least one spouse to end the marriage. In such cases the length of the marriage and the parties contributions are important factors. But where a marriage ends on death, a widow is entitled to say she entered into it on the basis of indefinite duration and in the expectation that the parties would spend their lives together. The authors ask should a marriage prematurely terminated on death cause the length of the marriage to be a less important factor than it would be on divorce? The issue came before the Court of Appeal in October 2005 in Fielden and Graham v Cunliffe [2005] EWCA Civ 1508, [2006] FLR (forthcoming) (comment at [2006] Fam Law 263) and the authors look in detail at the case. See May [2006] Fam Law 374 for the full article.

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