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Barlow and James23 describe the treatment of opposite-sex
cohabitants by the law as 'schizophrenic'
, sometimes treating them as if they were
married and sometimes treating it as an inferior form of relationship. They note, for
example, that under the
Administration of Estates Act 1925, s 46 only a spouse will
automatically inherit all or some of their spouse's estate where their husband or wife
dies without making a will. Although the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants)
Act 1975, has in recent years been amended24 to give cohabitants of at least two years
the right to make a claim in a similar situation, this is limited to financial provision
for maintenance only.25 Barlow and James therefore suggest that 'the law applicable
in the event of the death of a cohabitant is confused and contradictory'.26
23 A Barlow and G James, 'Regulating Marriage and Cohabitation in 21st Century Britain' (2004) 67 MLR 143, 147.
24 S 1(1)(a) and (ba) as substituted by the Civil Partnership Act 2004, s 71 and Sch 4 Pt 2 para 15(1) and (2).
25 Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, s 2.
26 Barlow and James (n 23) 151.