ABSTRACT

Introduction We begin our empirical exploration of kinship and inheritance by way of a case study of a very specific issue, namely inheritance in families where there has been a history that includes divorce, cohabitation following divorce, remarriage, step-relationships or a combination of these experiences. We are calling these 'complex families', since other terms like 'reconstituted families' fail to capture the diversity and fluidity of family practices in these circumstances (Smart and Neale 1999). We do not mean to suggest that these situations represent the norm for English families, although they are increasingly common, as we noted in Chapter 1. However, we believe that the management of inheritance in these families can illuminate priorities and processes that are more generally applicable.