Cohabitation (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
A living arrangement in which an unmarried couple lives together in a long-term relationship that resembles a marriage.
Couples cohabit, rather than marry, for a variety of reasons. They may want to test their compatibility before they commit to a legal union. They may want to maintain their single status for financial reasons. In some cases, such as those involving gay or lesbian couples, or individuals already married to another person, the law does not allow them to marry. In other cases, the partners may feel that marriage is unnecessary. Whatever the reasons, between 1970 and 1990, the number of couples living together outside of marriage quadrupled, from 523,000 to nearly 3 million. These couples face some of the same legal issues as married couples, as well as some issues that their married friends need never consider.
In most places, it is legal for unmarried people to live together, although some ZONING laws prohibit more than three unrelated people from inhabiting a house or apartment. A few states still prohibit fornication, or sexual relations between an unmarried man and woman, but such laws are no longer enforced. Even in the early twenty-first century, some states continue to prohibit SODOMY, which includes sexual relations between people of the same sex. Although these laws are...
(The entire section is 2119 words.)
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