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Family/cohabitation arrangements

Modern family life is characterised by great variation in family and cohabitation arrangements. There is now more freedom of choice and acceptance for people who wish to choose untraditional solutions, while it is clear at the same time that most people choose more traditional arrangements. Around 40% of Norwegian households consist of single people, while the rest are couples or families in one form or another.

Marriage is seen as being the family arrangement that involves the biggest commitment, and it used to be almost unthinkable in Norway for people to live together and have children without being married. Having children out of wedlock was seen as shameful. This has changed, and it is now more and more common to choose to just live together (cohabitation). Many people choose to cohabit in the early phase of their relationship, because it is seen as involving less commitment.

Many people believe that marriage and cohabitation have equal status in Norway, but the law is not clear on this issue. In some areas, the definition of a cohabitant is limited to cohabitants with joint children. In other areas, cohabitants without joint children are also included, but in such cases it is usually a requirement that the couple have cohabited for a certain length of time. Marriage is still the main way of regulating the relationship between couples.

People of the same sex also have the right to marry in Norway. The Norwegian parliament, the Storting, passed the Partnership Act in 1993. It gave homosexuals the right to register partnerships. In 2008, a new Marriage Act was passed that permitted persons of the same sex to marry. A system was also introduced whereby lesbian women can apply for assisted fertilisation and thereby have children together.

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