Cook Islands - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Since the acceptance of Christianity in the nineteenth century all marriage has been monogamous. In the past polygamy was theoretically allowed, but in practice it was only possible for those of outstanding rank or strength. Trial marriage has long been common. Arranged marriages no longer occur. Separation and divorce are relatively Common, as is common-law marriage. Postmarital residence is neolocal as a matter of preference, but for convenience couples often reside with either set of parents-in-law until separate housing can be arranged.

Domestic Unit. The 1986 census showed an average of just under five persons per dwelling. The nuclear family is the preferred unit, but many children stay with relatives for higher schooling or as a result of illegitimacy or broken Marriages. Grandparents usually like to have one grandchild live with them. These and other causes, including work transfers, lead to many short-term domestic arrangements.

Inheritance. Landownership rights are distributed equally among descendants, but leases and occupation rights are generally allocated to individuals on the basis of occupation, need, or personal preference. Other property is ideally shared equally among the children, but this is not practicable with consumer goods such as automobiles and refrigerators, which are allocated to individuals.

Socialization. Children are raised by the older members of the household they are in at the time. Infants are treated with great indulgence. Respect for others is highly valued. Christian teachings constitute a significant element of training.

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