New Directions for Family Law in the United States
From Contract Cohabitation to Registered Partnerships and Beyond
This article provides a survey of one major development in family law in the United States that has occurred during the most recent past. This development is the change that has occurred in marriage-like relationships. The article begins with a discussion of contract cohabitation and the extent to which it reflected a change from traditional views of formal or informal marriage as the only legally acceptable model for adults who desired to live together. It shows how contract cohabitation laid the groundwork for the establishment of domestic partnership laws. These laws were first adopted by municipalities and then by states to cover same-sex relationships and then served as a predicate for civil union legislation. That legislation in turn provided a legal model for recognizing same-sex relationships short of marriage. The article provides an analysis and critique of provisions (which are reproduced) dealing with domestic partnerships of the Principles of the Law of Family Dissolution proposed by the American Law Institute in 2000.