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Family relationships often include money and/or property issues which come to a head when relationships break down. The law has struggled with the best way to decide what is fair in such disputes and current policy issues which are under consideration include:

  • should pre-nuptial agreements be strictly binding?
  • is mediation the best way to resolve family property disputes?
  • should cohabitants have the same or similar rights as married couples to financial provision when relationships break down?
  • can child support be left to agreement between parents?
  • should the law promote autonomy or protect financially vulnerable family members?

Special Issue on ‘Family Solidarity, Child and Family Law Quarterly, Volume 27, Issue 3, 2015: 219-328.

  • G. Douglas et al (eds) ‘Introduction – Special Issue on family solidarity’, 221-222.
  • A. Barlow, ‘Solidarity, autonomy and equality: mixed messages for the family?’, 223-235.
  • T. Sverdrup, ‘Family solidarity and the mind-set of private law’, 237-247.
  • M. F. Brinig, ‘Substantive parenting arrangements in the USA: unpacking the policy choices’, 249-259.
  • M. Garrison, ‘Fostering family law norms through educational initiatives’, 261-270.
  • M. V.  Antokolskaia, ‘Parenting in step-parent families: legal status versus de facto roles’, 271-284.
  • F. Swennen and L. Verhaert, ‘Intergenerational solidarity and elder care in the Low Countries’, 285-302.

Anne Barlow

  • 2014 'Legislating for cohabitation in common law jurisdictions in Europe: Two Steps Forward and One step Back?. In.  Boele-Woelki K, Dethloff N, Gerhart W (eds) Family Law and Culture in Europe: Developments, Challenges and Opportunities, Cambridge: intersentia. Full text.
  • 2009 ‘Property and Couple Relationships: What does Community of Property have to offer English Law?’ in A. Bottomley and S. Wong (eds.) Changing Contours of Domestic Life, Family and Law: Oxford: Hart Publishing: 27-47

  • 2009 ‘Legal Rationality and Family Property: What has Love got to do with it?’ In J.Miles and R. Probert (eds) Sharing Lives, Dividing Assets: An Interdisciplinary Study  Oxford: Hart Publishing: 450-473
  • 2008 with C Burgoyne, E Clery and J Smithson, ‘Cohabitation and the Law: Myths, Money and the Media’ in British Social Attitudes – The 24th Report, Park A, Curtice J, Thompson K, Phillips M and Clery E (eds), Sage: 2008: 29 – 51
  • 2008 ‘Cohabiting relationships, money and property: the legal backdrop’ Journal of Socio-Economics 37(2): 502-518
  • 2007 ‘Community of Property: a logical response to Miller; McFarlane?’ Bracton Law Journal 39:19-34
  • 2007 ‘Family Law and Housing Law: A Symbiotic Relationship?’
In Family Life and the Law: Under One Roof, Probert, R.(ed), Aldershot: Ashgate:11-26
  • 2006 with E Cooke and T Callus Community of Property – A regime for England and Wales? Bristol: Policy Press, pp. 52

Public Lecture

In 2009 Barlow's research on cohabitation led to a public lecture and debate by members of the Peninsula Family Justice Council about solicitor opportunities to advise and raise the legal awareness of cohabitants.

Gillian Douglas

  • 2000, with A Perry et al How parents cope financially on marriage breakdown, Family Policy Studies Centre and Joseph Rowntree Foundation 40 pp (funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation); see also
  • 2001 with A Perry, ‘How parents cope financially on separation and divorce - implications for the future of ancillary relief’ 13 Child and Family Law Quarterly 67-80
  • 2007 with J Pearce and H Woodward, A Failure of Trust: Resolving Property Disputes on Cohabitation Breakdown University of Bristol/Cardiff University 199 pp (funded by the ESRC); see also
  • 2008 with J Pearce and H Woodward, 'Cohabitation and conveyancing practice: problems and solutions' [2008] The Conveyancer and Property Lawyer 365-381
  • 2009 with J Pearce and H Woodward, 'Cohabitants, Property and the Law: A Study of Injustice' (2009) 72 Modern Law Review 24-47
  • 2009 with J Pearce and H Woodward, 'Money, property, cohabitation and separation: patterns and intentions' in R Probert and J Miles (eds) Money, property, relationships and separation: an inter disciplinary study Hart Publishing, Oxford
  • 2008 with C Williams and G Potter, 'Cohabitation and Intestacy: Public Opinion and Law Reform' [2008] Child and Family Law Quarterly 499-521 (funded by Sheffield University and Cardiff University)
  • 2010 with A Humphrey et al, Inheritance and the family: attitudes to will-making and intestacy National Centre for Social Research 136 pp (funded by the Nuffield Foundation); see also
  • 2010 with A Humphrey et al, ‘Inheritance and the Family: Public Attitudes’ [2010] Fam Law 1308-1316
  • 2011 with A Humphrey et al, ‘‘Enduring Love: attitudes to family and inheritance law in England and Wales’ (2011) 38 (2) Journal of Law and Society 245-271

Emma Hitchings

Janet Reibstein

  • 2007 with C Burgoyne, A Edmunds and V Dolman (2007) Money management systems in early marriage: Factors influencing change and stability. J of Economic Psychology. 28,  214-228.

    Abstract: We know little about how couples develop their systems of money management, nor how and why these might change over time. To address these lacunae, in-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 42 heterosexual couples before their first marriage and again one year later. A Grounded Theory analysis was used to explore financial practices and how individuals approached monetary issues. Before the wedding the majority had rather independent monetary arrangements, but a year later, some had moved to more collective systems. Factors influencing change or stability in financial arrangements were both pragmatic (having to respond to major expenses such as house purchase or a new baby) and ideological (e.g., the relative importance of autonomy or sharing within the marriage). But an over-riding factor was perceived ownership of income and other assets. Those choosing more separation in money matters did so in order to maintain their financial identity and autonomy. However, there was evidence that such systems can sow the seeds of inequality later if women curtail their employment to provide childcare.

Tess Ridge

Abstract: This article presents a comparative child-focused analysis of child support policies in the UK and Australia (an influential forerunner to the development of the UK child support system). Using a child-focused approach that places the best interests of children at the centre of the inquiry, it assesses how children have fared in each country in relation to three key criteria: first, the extent to which child support policies have succeeded in addressing the issue of child poverty; second, how child support policies have influenced the degree of conflict that children can experience between their separated parents; and, third, how equitable child support policies are in relation to children in ‘first’ and ‘second’ families. By focusing solely on children's wellbeing, the article shows how competing interests and social and political pressures can influence and distort policy outcomes, perversely affecting children's lives. The article concludes that child support policies in both countries have failed in several critical areas to put children's best interests first. In response to issues and concerns raised by using a child-focused approach, key reforms to the UK child support system are proposed.

  • 2009 Benefiting children? The challenge of childhood poverty. In: Millar, J., ed. Understanding Social Security: Issues for Policy and Practice. 2nd edition. Bristol: Policy Press.
  • 2011 The everyday costs of poverty in childhood: a review of qualitative research exploring the lives and experiences of low-income children in the UK. 25 Children & Society 73-84.

Abstract: This review of 10 years of qualitative research with disadvantaged children in the UK shows that despite some gaps in the knowledge base, there is now a substantive body of evidence exploring children’s lives and experiences from their own perspectives. The review reveals that poverty penetrates deep into the heart of childhood, permeating every facet of children’s lives from economic and material disadvantage, through the structuring and limiting of social relationships and social participation to the most personal often hidden aspects of disadvantage associated with shame, sadness and the fear of social difference and marginalization.