Skip to main content
Shackleton Relationships Project

New research project funded by Exeter alumna, Baroness Shackleton of Belgravia LVO. Find out more.


Couples’ partnerships include cohabitation, in its varied forms, from long-term committed relationships to shorter-term ones with more ambiguous intentions toward futures together; civil partnerships; as well as marriages, both intact and those that have broken down into separation and divorce.  Within these there are also same-sex and heterosexual partnerships. Each can present with particular characteristics that pertain to their regulation within a society, or may raise questions about their regulation—or not.

The Network members’ research on relationships has included studies of: cohabitation; the “common law marriage myth revisited”; lesbian parenting relationships; factors associated with enduring and satisfying relationships; factors associated with affairs and their effects on marriages; the psychological aspects for the adults of divorce.  These have resulted in applications in the fields of law; to clinical mental health practice; to public policy; and to the training of solicitors, mental health practitioners, and those working with families in the midst of breakdown.

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

  • 2010 with Janet Smithson ‘Legal assumptions, cohabitants’ talk and the rocky road to reform’ Child and Family Law Quarterly 22(3):328-350
  • 2007 with C. Burgoyne, E. Clery and J. Smithson The Living Together Campaign: An Investigation of its Impact on Legally Aware Cohabitants, London: Ministry of Justice
  • 2006 – ‘Cohabitation Law Reform: Messages from Research’ 14 Feminist Legal Studies 167-180
  • 2005 (with Simon Duncan and Grace James) ‘Why don’t they marry? Cohabitation, commitment and DIY marriage’ 17 (3) Child and Family Law Quarterly 383 – 398
  • 2004 with Rebecca Probert ‘Regulating Marriage and Cohabitation: Changing Family Values and Policies in Europe and North America – An Introductory Critique’ Law and Policy 26(1):1-11
  • 2004  ‘Regulation of Cohabitation, Changing Family Policies and Social Attitudes: a Discussion of Britain within Europe’ Law and Policy 26(1):57-86
  • 2004 with G. James ‘Regulating Marriage and Cohabitation in 21st Century Britain’ Modern Law Review 67(2) 143-176

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.

Janet Reibstein

  • 2011 A different lens for working with affairs. J. Family Therapy, in press