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The legal status of marriage has become the focus of a great deal of controversy in recent years. Social and religious conservatives have voiced alarm at the decline of marriage in an era in which divorce rates are high and increasing numbers of people live in nonmarital families. For these advocates, social welfare rests on the survival (or revival) of traditional marriage. Meanwhile, critics from the left argue that marriage as the preferred and privileged family form will (and should) soon be a thing of the past. Some feminists, such as Martha Fineman and Nancy Polikoff, want to abolish legal marriage altogether. Fineman argues that the parent-child relationship should replace marriage as the core family form privileged under the law. On her view, adults in intimate partnerships who wish to undertake commitments to one another should be free to execute contracts embodying their mutual obligations, but their unions should have no special legal status. Other critics seek to dilute the legal distinctions between marriage and informal unions, arguing that cohabiting couples and their children should enjoy the same legal privileges and recognition as families of married couples.


Family Law | Law


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