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The Oxford Introductions to U.S. LawFamily Law$
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Brian Bix

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199989591

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199989591.001.0001

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Alternatives to Marriage

Alternatives to Marriage

(p.49) Three Alternatives to Marriage
The Oxford Introductions to U.S. Law

Brian H. Bix

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines legal alternatives and competitors to marriage, with particular emphasis on long-term cohabitation (by opposite-sex or same-sex partners), domestic partnership, domestic registration, and civil union. It first considers why couples in long-term cohabitation relationships do not marry before analyzing whether the availability of official alternatives to marriage undermines the promotion of marriage, or whether it is instead a valuable way to allow couples to seek the status that matches their needs. It also discusses how to respond to couples who have intentionally avoided all forms of legal status (as a mutual choice, or based on the “veto” of one member of the couple). The chapter concludes with an assessment of legal status in states and foreign countries that is less than marriage in terms of rights and obligations.

Keywords:   marriage, long-term cohabitation, domestic partnership, domestic registration, civil union, couples

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