The core component of the LawsAndFamilies Database is an interactive legal database. This database contains the results of a legal survey about families and laws beyond different-sex marriages among selected legal experts in over 20 European countries. It looks at the legal aspects of family diversity and distinguishes between three broad categories of legal family formats for different-sex and/or same-sex couples: marriage, registered partnership, cohabitation. The results of this survey are here not only presented in the interactive database, but also in over 130 authored source papers containing the data for specific countries. A comparative analysis of these legal data will soon be added.

This legal survey is largely based on the methodology and questionnaire developed for and presented in the 2005 report More or less together (Waaldijk, K. (ed.) (2005). More or less together: Levels of legal consequences of marriage, cohabitation and registered partnership for different-sex and same-sex partners. A comparative study of nine European countries. Paris: INED). Since then, a number of issues gained prominence that were not adequately covered by the questionnaire. Therefore, a wide consultation has been held in 2013/2014 to get input regarding the ideal set of questions that can ensure a good picture of this dynamic and diverse field. These consultations led to useful suggestions from several partners and stakeholders of the FamiliesAndSocieties project, and from legal experts from various countries. And a final round of clarifications could be made thanks to legal experts from Spain who kindly agreed to answer parts of this questionnaire using a 2014 test-version of it.

For the purposes of this survey, “legal family formats” (or “family formats”) are understood as family forms (for couples) that have legal effects. This study focuses on the legal consequences (rights and duties, benefits and responsibilities) that national law attaches – or not – to marriage, registered partnership and/or cohabitation; i.e. to formal and informal family formats that national law has made available – or not – to different-sex and/or same-sex couples. Further information on the meaning of terms like “legal family formats”, “registered partnership” and “cohabitation” employed in this survey can be found in the paper: Waaldijk, K., Lorenzo Villaverde, J.M., Nikolina N., & Zago, G. (2016). The LawsAndFamilies questionnaire on legal family formats for same-sex and/or different-sex couples: Text of the questions and of the accompanying guidance document, FamiliesAndSocieties Working Paper 64(2016), (see especially the Introduction and points d and e of the Guidance).

The survey has been held among selected legal experts in the countries concerned. These experts were asked to complete a detailed questionnaire online, so that the results could be included in this open-access online database of legal aspects of different family formats. The information provided by the legal experts mostly applies to whole countries. However, for countries like the United Kingdom, the information has not been collected for the country as a whole, but for all or some specific regional/provincial/state jurisdictions (such as Northern Ireland) that are part of it. For those jurisdictions the answers in the database represent a combined picture of regional and national law. In this database the term “jurisdiction” is used both for whole countries and for the main regional/provincial/state parts that a country may have. Further information on how such complex countries are treated in this survey, can be found in the Guidance for experts (points f and g).

The interactive database provides two requests forms. One “per one jurisdiction” and the other “per one legal question”. With these request forms the user can specify which jurisdiction(s), which question(s), which legal family format(s) and which year(s) should be selected. The interactive database provides different ways for displaying or downloading the results. The results tables and the downloads include weblinks to the authored source papers. In each of these source papers the complete answers (with references, explanations and nuances) for one section for one jurisdiction can be found. All this is explained in greater detail in the User guide.

The interactive database went online early in 2017 with legal information about 23 jurisdictions in 21 countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom (England and Wales; Northern Ireland; Scotland), with more jurisdictions to be added later.

For a first comparative analysis of legal and other data in this database, see: Waaldijk, K. (Ed.) (2017). More and more together: Legal family formats for same-sex and different-sex couples in European countries – Comparative analysis of data in the LawsAndFamilies Database (with contributions by D. Damonzé, M. Digoix, M. Franchi, N. Nikolina, J.I. Pichardo Galán, G. Selmi, M. de Stéfano Barbero, M. Thibeaud, J.A.M. Vela, K. Waaldijk & G. Zago). FamiliesAndSocieties Working Paper 75(2017),

Recommended citation: K. Waaldijk et al. (eds.), The LawsAndFamilies Database – aspects of legal family formats for same-sex and different-sex couples, Paris: INED, 2017,

Disclaimer: The database contains information with a scientific aim. Nothing in this database should be seen as legal advice. Not all nuances and exceptions are included, and there may be errors and further legal developments. The experts, the authors, the editors, the Institut national d’études démographiques and Leiden University cannot be held liable for any inaccurate or incomplete information in any part of this  database. More particularly, they cannot be held liable for any damage or consequences from the direct or indirect use of contents of this database.

Acknowledgment: The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement no. 320116 for the research project FamiliesAndSocieties. See