Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.653275
Title: Ruling on cohabitation : a critical study of the cohabitation rule in UK social security law
Author: Kelly, S. J.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2007
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Abstract:
This thesis demonstrates that the cohabitation rule in UK law rests on questionable assumptions about financial support and on an unreliable adjudication procedure. It is out-of-step with private law constructions of the obligations of cohabitants and with modern relationship aspirations. It continues to discriminate against women with children, forcing many of them into financial dependence on a male breadwinner who may or may not be willing or able to provide the financial support they need. It is hoped that the thesis will reignite a debate which seemed to fizzle out in the 1970s, by re-examining the underlying assumptions which support arguments for retaining the rule. The thesis includes an empirical exploration of the contexts in which couples cohabit and sometimes lie about their relationships. This empirical evidence challenges assumptions about cohabitation and its concomitant obligations which underlie arguments used to defend the rule. The insights it generates undermine the basis of cohabitation rule fraud; suggest a different understanding of the value of lone parent status from that favoured by governments and raise serious questions about conflicting and inappropriate constructions of child support obligations. The thesis seeks to investigate three research questions: How can cohabitants’ attitudes and behaviour in relation to money, be understood? How should ‘cohabitation’ be understood? Does the retention of the cohabitation rule in UK social security law have any social costs? Answers to these questions are based on interviews with 20 participants in the UK, who were or had been affected by the cohabitation rule, and 8 participants in Denmark, who were or had been affected by the reelt enlig or really single rule. The small comparative element of the study provides a different lens through which to view the cohabitation rule. The comparison enables me to argue for a different approach to social security for families which respects the rights of individual family members and reflects the value of parenting rather than breadwinner status. The thesis discusses the wider implications of the study for family policy and concludes that there are significant problems with any form of non-contractual regulation of personal obligations.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.653275  DOI: Not available
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