Living Apart Together
Legal Protections for a New Form of Family
Published by: NYU Press
312 pages, 152.00 x 229.00 mm, 13 b/w illustrations
- ISBN: 9781479891047
- Published: February 2021
Argues for legal reforms to protect couples who live apart but perform many of the functions of a family
Living Apart Together is an in-depth look at a new way of being a couple and “doing family”—living apart together (LAT)—in which committed couples maintain separate residences and finances. In Bowman’s own 2016 national survey, 9% of respondents reported maintaining committed relationships while living apart, typically spending the weekend together, socializing together, taking vacations together, and looking after one another in illness, but maintaining financial independence. The term LAT stems from Europe, where this manner of coupledom has been extensively studied; however, it has gone virtually unnoticed in the United States.
Living Apart Together aims to remedy this oversight by presenting original research derived from both randomized surveys and qualitative interviews. Beginning with the large body of social science literature from outside the US, Cynthia Bowman examines the prevalence of this lifestyle, the demographics of people who live apart, their reasons for doing so, and how these individuals manage finances, care during illness, and many other aspects of family life. She focuses in particular detail on three key demographics—women, gay men, and the elderly—and how individuals from these groups engage in LAT behavior. She finds that while these living arrangements are more common than previously believed, there are virtually no legal protections for the people involved. Bowman concludes by proposing a number of legal reforms to support the caregiving functions LAT partners perform for each other. Living Apart Together makes an important case for formal recognition of this growing but largely overlooked family structure.
Explores the psychological strengths and the legal vulnerabilities of mostly unmarried intimate partners who share emotional bonds, affection, sometimes their finances, and almost always a sense of responsibility for each other’s welfare, but nevertheless choose to maintain separate residences. Living Apart Together prompts readers to rethink with care what we mean by family, intimacy, monogamy, commitment and relationship: neither marriage nor cohabitation may be as central to adult relational intimacy as we have come to think. ~Robin West, Frederick J. Haas Professor of Law and Philosophy, Georgetown University Law Center
This eminently readable academic book provides the first socio-legal exploration of the Living Apart Together (LAT) phenomenon in the USA and considers what legal status, if any, such new-style families should have within family law. Drawing on recent empirical research, it exposes the likely scale of LAT couples in the US as some 10 per cent of the adult population and carefully reflects upon their similarities and differences to other more traditional family forms. This is an excellent and stimulating work which confirms how the law should be alert to the changing family fabrics of society. ~Anne Barlow, Professor of Family Law and Policy, University of Exeter Law School
Bowman casts a spotlight on a widespread but little noticed living arrangement, couples who live in separate residences, known in European census data as LAT, living apart together. She explores the attraction of LAT for couples seeking relationships of equality and intimacy, particularly women, gay males, and older people. ~Sylvia A. Law, Elizabeth K. Dollard Professor of Law, Medicine, and Psychiatry Emerita, NYU Law School
Can our understanding of domestic relations survive the omission of “domestic”? Bowman’s fascinating study of LATs thoroughly explores this question, showing how intimacy and notions of family can defy even foundational assumptions. This engaging book contributes important new data and insights to the literature on contemporary transformations in family life and family law. ~Susan Frelich Appleton, Lemma Barkeloo & Phoebe Couzins Professor of Law, Washington University School of Law