Journal Article

Cohabitation in Germany - rules, reality and public discourses

I Ostner

in International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family

Volume 15, issue 1, pages 88-101
Published in print April 2001 | ISSN: 1360-9939
Published online April 2001 | e-ISSN: 1464-3707 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/lawfam/15.1.88
Cohabitation in Germany - rules, reality and public discourses

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Like other western societies Germany, too, has experienced increasing divorce rates, a growing number of lone parents, women's and men's reluctance to marry and to have children and increasing rates of cohabitation. However, changing marriage and family behaviour does not cause moral panics. They are largely interpreted as indicators of ongoing cultural modernization. This essay gives some insights into German attitudes towards what is perceived as an increasing plurality of living arrangements. It briefly presents empirical data on people who live together and explains the peculiar legal status of cohabitation which cannot be severed from that of marriage. Since the 1950s, the meaning and content of cohabitation have been both constantly broadened as well as deepened through jurisprudence. This has put further pressure on privileges attached to marriage and families built on marriage.

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Subjects: Family Law ; Marriage and the Family

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