University of Exeter


Rebecca Probert is Professor of Law at the University of Exeter. Her research focuses on the law relating to marriage, bigamy and cohabitation. In 2015 she was seconded to the Law Commission to work on their scoping paper Getting Married.

She has written on all aspects of modern family law (Cretney and Probert’s Family Law (Sweet & Maxwell, 9th ed, 2015, with Maebh Harding); IEL Family and Succession Law: England and Wales 37 (Kluwer, 3nd edition, 2012) and (with Jonathan Herring and Stephen Gilmore) Great Debates in Family Law, (Palgrave, 2nd ed 2015), and has edited a number of collections of essays (Marriage Rites and Rights (Hart, 2015), co-edited with Joanna Miles and Perveez Mody; Fifty years in Family Law: Essays for Stephen Cretney (Intersentia, 2012), co-edited with Chris Barton; Landmark Cases in Family Law (Hart, 2011), co-edited with Stephen Gilmore and Jonathan Herring; Sharing Lives, Dividing Assets (Hart, 2009), co-edited with Joanna Miles; Responsible Parents and Parental Responsibility (Hart, 2009), co-edited with Jonathan Herring and Stephen Gilmore; Family Life and the Law: Under One Roof (Ashgate, 2007)).

However, her main research interests lie in the overlapping areas of marriage, cohabitation, bigamy and divorce. Her first monograph Marriage Law and Practice in the Long Eighteenth Century: A Reassessment (Cambridge University Press, 2009) looks at how couples married in eighteenth-century England (shattering a few myths about common-law marriage, broomstick weddings and hand-fasting along the way), while The Rights and Wrongs of Royal Marriage: How the law has led to heartbreak, farce and confusion and why it must be changed (Takeaway, 2011) examines the special rules that apply to members of the Royal family. The Legal Regulation of Cohabitation: From Fornicators to Family, 1600-2010 (Cambridge University Press, 2012) demonstrated the rarity of cohabitation in earlier centuries and how  the common-law marriage myth only emerged in the 1970s.

Relevant publications:

  • Marriage Law and Practice in the Long Eighteenth Century: A Reassessment (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009);
  • Marriage Rites and Rights (Oxford: Hart, 2015), co-edited with Joanna Miles and Perveez Mody;
  • The evolving concept of non-marriage’ (2013) 25 Child and Family Law Quarterly 314-35;
  • ‘When are we married? Void, non-existent and presumed marriages’ (2002) 22 Legal Studies 398-419.
%d bloggers like this: