What Do You Do When They Don’t Say “I Do”? Cross-Border Regulation for Alternative Spousal Relations

Marriage is a local arrangement with international effects. Throughout the Western world, a marriage recognized as valid by the parties’ home country is usually considered valid and binding in any other country. This recognition carries substantial benefits. In sharp contrast, unwed couples and some married couples, namely same-sex couples, are denied these benefits due to lack of (sufficient) inter-state and international recognition of their relationships, making their relationships unstable at best. This Article discusses the cross-border recognition of such relationships—or lack thereof—and its effects, and it suggests a way to better the situation using private law tools, thus avoiding much of the public debate on the matter.