Whereas "Family" was once defined as a married man and a woman, and children born in wedlock, that definition is becoming much broader in today's society. It now includes "blended families" with step-parents and children from different relationships; single-parent families; families in which the parents are cohabiting; families in which the children are being raised by grandparents; and gay relationships with or without children. Our definition of "Family" is morphing and growing, and it is becoming more accepting and inclusive.
What hasn't changed much is the laws relating to divorce and Family Law. In order to provide protection for people in non-marital relationships, our laws need to change. For instance, a spouse who has given up her or his career to care for children throughout a long marriage is entitled to spousal maintenance after a divorce; but a person who has done the same thing in a long-term cohabitation arrangement is not. Unlike California Arizona has no "palimony" law to protect that person. And while a spouse in a marital relationship has community property rights, and rights of inheritance under the law, a person in a cohabitation relationship has no such protection after a break-up or a death.
For these reasons, a person entering into a committed relationship must think long and hard about what form that commitment should take. Marriage or Cohabitation? There is a significant difference from a legal perspective, with a spouse in a marital relationship having far more protection.
Some recent changes have been made in
Changes are occurring in how we, as a society, view and define “Family.” The law must continue to evolve in order to accommodate those changes.
Gary Frank has practiced Family Law in