Partners are typically defined as unmarried adult cohabitants who are emotionally and financially interdependent, have reached the age of consent, do not have a different domestic partner or spouse, and are in a long-term committed relationship. Despite the financial and legal disincentives, over the past 30 years, there has been an upward trend worldwide in industrialized countries in the number of unmarried partners cohabitating. Underlying this shift in living arrangements is the broad social and cultural shift from a society in which religious ideology encouraged social conformity regarding marriage to a more secular society in which individual choice, autonomy, and freedom are encouraged. The extension of legal rights around the world to opposite-sex and same-sex cohabitants has evolved unevenly and varies both among and within ...

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