Montserratians - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Montserratian mating follows the same patterns that prevail elsewhere in the Caribbean, although the incidence of different forms may vary. There are visiting relationships between partners who live in their mother's or parents' households, long-term neolocal cohabitation without legal marriage, legal marriage, and legal marriages in which husbands keep "outside" mates and children. Women often have incentives not to marry, especially if they have a house, rights to land, or a central role in a consanguineal matrifocal household. Nevertheless, the dominant ideology values legal marriage, even when many people by choice or necessity live in other arrangements.

Domestic Unit and Socialization. As elsewhere in the Caribbean, households are the locus of early socialization and may be elementary family units with or without legal marriage; woman- and couple-headed households of two or more generations; or single-person households. Except for the last, they may include short- or long-term foster children or may be augmented for a while by other temporary residents, for instance a sibling or child of a sibling. Although classes may differ in ideologies about household composition and behavior, research on middle-class women has shown that ideologies of male dominance prevail, even among educated, salaried women who contribute significantly to household income.

Inheritance. Houses, land, and chattels may all be bequeathed within the legal system. There is also customary transmission of undivided "family land" in common to all the owner's or owners' legitimate children.

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