The Flexible Family in Three Dimensions

18 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2011 Last revised: 3 Feb 2011

Date Written: June 1, 2010


Written for a symposium at the University of Minnesota Law School on "Law and the Modern American Family," this essay explores the extent to which American law should recognize, organize, and support a family outside marriage - what might be termed "the flexible family." The essay advances three normative claims. First, nonmarital cohabitation should be more fully recognized and supported by American law. Second, given the mobility of our population from one state to another, the legal structures that recognize and support the flexible family should be portable across state lines for parties who change their state of domicile. Third, American law not only should address the bilateral, or two-dimensional, rights and obligations of unmarried cohabitants to each other but also should do more to protect the flexible family against third parties - hence, in all three dimensions.

Suggested Citation

Gallanis, Thomas P., The Flexible Family in Three Dimensions (June 1, 2010). Law and Inequality: A Journal of Theory and Practice, Vol. 28, No. 2, p. 291, Summer 2010, University of Iowa Legal Studies Research Paper No.11-07, Available at SSRN:

Thomas P. Gallanis (Contact Author)

University of Iowa - College of Law ( email )

Melrose and Byington
Iowa City, IA 52242
United States

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