A person in a relationship without marriage

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The_Moonlight

Banned
Polish
<<A person in a relationship without marriage>>


Hi,
Suppose there was a case in a court of law in which a woman - the plaintiff - accuses the man she's in a relationship with of beating her. The judge goes:

- Miss Jonson, what do you accuse your _______ of?
- I accuse my _______ of mistreating me.

What would you insert in the blanks? I'm particularly looking for a legal term, if applicable.
Would the word work if the man was the plaintiff?
 
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  • Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    "The man she's in a relationship with" covers a wide range of possible relationships. It's not specific enough to narrow the answer down to one term. It could be boyfriend or partner as posted. It could also be lover or any of several other terms. There are terms for her partner in several specific types of relationship, but no general term that covers all possible relationships or even most of the traditional ones.
     

    The_Moonlight

    Banned
    Polish
    I meant something like a partner. It's a romantic relationship. They live together and so on and so forth. They're just not married.
     

    Hau Ruck

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Most likely, if this were a courtroom, they'd speak of Ms. Jonson and Mr. Jones.
    I can't imagine them really referring to boyfriend, husband, partner, etc.


    - Miss Jonson, what do you accuse Mr. Jones of?
    - I accuse him of mistreating me.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    In this case, it seems that the detailed description of the context (i.e., what exactly the relationship is/was) will help select the correct word. As to a legally valid term for that relationship, we leave such advice to the professionals in the appropriate jurisdiction.

    As an example, there is a term "common-law husband (or wife)" : it will have a specific legal meaning depending on the law of the particular country - the length of time varies and is defined vaguely as "several" for that reason.

    • common-law (modifier) denoting a marriage deemed to exist after a couple have cohabited for several years: common-law marriage, common-law wife
     

    The_Moonlight

    Banned
    Polish
    I just looked it up in an English-Polish dictionary and the translation that pops up is a word which basically means "a male concubine" (I do realize it's non-existent in English) which is what, I think, was meant in this thread.
    Of course both notions do vary enough to be untranslatable.
     

    JustKate

    Senior Member
    The_Moonlight said:
    I meant something like a partner. It's a romantic relationship. They live together and so on and so forth. They're just not married.
    There is, alas, no term for such a relationship that suits all circumstances. There should be, and I assume eventually there will be, but right now, nothing works in all cases.

    Partner, for example, is fine, but it is still commonly used for other relationships, such as business partners, and that's a problem. Somebody introduces you to his or her "partner," and unless they're holding hands or also introduce you to their children or show you photos from their commitment ceremony, you can't tell what that means.

    Boyfriend/girlfriend (1) sounds kind of goofy when everybody involved is adult and besides (2) it's also used to describe relationships in which the couple isn't living together and isn't even having sex.

    Live-in boyfriend/girlfriend
    also has problems in that it still (1) sounds goofy when everybody involved is adult and (2) has for some reason acquired a slightly negative connotation (or at least it usually does when I hear it used - I have no idea why).

    Lover
    tells us more than most of us want to know - and besides, it doesn't imply that the couple lives together and is making a life together; all it says is that they are in some sort of romantic and sexual relationship.

    It's a problem. What we use most is partner, and we just have to cope with the whole "Do they mean they're business partners or romantic partners?" issue on a case-by-case basis.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I just looked it up in an English-Polish dictionary and the translation that pops up is a word which basically means "a male concubine" (I do realize it's non-existent in English) which is what, I think, was meant in this thread.
    Of course both notions do vary enough to be untranslatable.
    Can you describe, in English, the kind of relationship clearly (?) defined by the Polish word you just looked up?
     

    Hau Ruck

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    It's a problem. What we use most is partner, and we just have to cope with the whole "Do they mean they're business partners or romantic partners?" issue on a case-by-case basis.
    Not to mention the fact that if we do not know the other partner's sex, many may misconstrue (or correctly construe) a homosexual relationship.

    If you were to hear a man say, "I live with my partner." it would often be assumed he is a homosexual man with an equally homosexual partner. ;)
    Mind you, this is just common assumption when both sexes of the relationship are not known. Avoiding the term, "boyfriend/husband" or "girlfriend/wife" can often lead people to assume.
     

    The_Moonlight

    Banned
    Polish
    Can you describe, in English, the kind of relationship clearly (?) defined by the Polish word you just looked up?
    Sure. Here's a translation of the Polish Wikipedia article:

    Konkubinat, kohabitacja (Concubinage, cohabitation)
    An informal relationship of two people who live together without formalizing it legally (as in a marriage)

    It is known from judicature practice that concubinages are considered to be relationships in which it's difficult to determine the link between personal relations with financial ones, while maintaining close bonds with each other and sharing a dwelling place.
     

    JustKate

    Senior Member
    Not to mention the fact that if we do not know the other partner's sex, many may misconstrue (or correctly construe) a homosexual relationship.

    If you were to hear a man say, "I live with my partner." it would often be assumed he is a homosexual man with an equally homosexual partner. ;)
    Mind you, this is just common assumption when both sexes of the relationship are not known. Avoiding the term, "boyfriend/husband" or "girlfriend/wife" can often lead people to assume.
    For that matter, it's almost as bad if one assumes a business partnership and it turns out they are romantic/life partners. You can offend somebody that way, too!
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    An informal relationship of two people who live together without formalizing it legally (as in a marriage)
    So the Polish description is as vague as the English one, in terms of the details of the relationship (the commonality is the absence of marriage). Cohabitation is a term used in English that implies strongly a lack of marriage, but it also equally means living together as a permanent arrangement. We don't describe people as "cohabitation partners". There is also obviously vagueness over arrangements where two people may each have their own apartments but move back and forth and sleep together or only sometimes spend the night at their own places etc etc etc. If they've "lived together" for more than several years, the common-law tag may well fit, but even then a court will almost certainly require proof of this to accept it.
    Post #5 has the best advice. After the court has heard a description of the specific "living together" situation and its duration to establish the facts, they will probably just go by the person's name, not try to use a term of the sort you are seeking!
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Here is a previous discussion dealing with the same issue:
    unmarried people living together as partners [word?]

    It seems to me that the exact relationship would come up in a court only if the dispute concerned financial relationships, rights of inheritance, parental rights or other things that are affected by marriage or its legal equivalent. In that case, the term would vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

    I have always thought that in assault cases, and in most other cases in which one person is accused of harming another, the legal status is likely to be irrelevant. However, I am not a lawyer.
     
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    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Here is a previous discussion dealing with the same issue:
    unmarried people living together as partners [word?]

    It seems to me that the exact relationship would come up in a court only if the dispute concerned financial relationships, rights of inheritance, parental rights or other things that are affected by marriage or its legal equivalent. I have always thought that in assault cases, and in most other cases in which one person is accused of harming another, the legal status is likely to be irrelevant. However, I am not a lawyer.
    Indeed, the assault issue does (should) not consider those aspects if basic human rights are to be observed. The word cohabitee (who is the cohabitee and who is the cohabiter, is a puzzling question to contemplate - both words are used) appears to be one used in some descriptions, as that thread indicates. In terms of a court questioning, I could even see it fitting in the blanks
    - Miss Jonson, what do you accuse your _______ of?
    - I accuse my _______ of mistreating me.
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Just to put it the other way around - there is no way that we or anyone in court would say

    - Miss Jonson, what do you accuse your concubine of? :cross: :D
    - I accuse my concubine of mistreating me. :cross:
    :D

    The above would simply sound laughable.

    The fact is that an informal relationship has very little, if any, status in law (at least in the UK and the US). The cohabiting couple would merely be treated as though they were unrelated.

    The laws are completely different when it comes to an official marriage or civil partnership.

    If a married couple live together and then separate, they remain marriage-partners in the eyes of the law until they are divorced.

    If an unmarried couple live together and then separate, they are no longer a couple and no longer partners. They are simply individuals.


    The actual court dialogue would be something like:

    - Miss Jonson, what do you accuse the defendant of?
    - I accuse him of mistreating me.
    - Now Miss Jonson, I believe that you and the defendant cohabited for a while?
    - That's right, we were living together as partners for nearly two years.
     
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    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Yes, avoid concubine at all cost! When I see the term, it's usually a polite way of referring to a man's mistress: a man has a wife, and one or more concubines.

    In a legal context, maybe cohabitee is possible, as JulianStuart says, and it seems to be the best of the alternatives discussed.
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    South Africa officially recognises 'life partnerships' and, from an immigration point of view, they are equated to marriages. The definition goes something like this: a spousal relationship (heterosexual or homosexual) with co-habitation, with emotional attachment, between two persons, to the exclusion of any third parties. We talk of 'life partners'. The problem is that this relationship is usually proved by signing an affidavit or presenting a notarised agreement - an element that is not present in the case of 'concubinage' :D
     

    Giorgio Spizzi

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Hullo everyone.

    I believe there ought to be no reason for not considering the word often heard and read in the context of same-sex relationships — (long-time) companion — appropriate.

    GS
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::

    cohabit /kəʊˈhæbɪt/vb
    • (intransitive) to live together as husband and wife, esp without being married
    Etymology: 16th Century: via Late Latin, from Latin co- together +habitāre to live

    ˌcohabiˈtee, coˈhabitant, coˈhabitern


    cohabitee
    :)

    (following on from mine and natkretep's posts)
     
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    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I believe there ought to be no reason for not considering the word often heard and read in the context of same-sex relationships — (long-time) companion — appropriate.
    GS
    GS, a companion is often non-sexual or romantic in nature. And I assumed that we were thinking of two people in a sexual/romantic relationship who are living together.
     

    Giorgio Spizzi

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Hullo, nat.

    What you say is reasonable, but if I go back to the original mini-exchange:

    - Miss Jonson, what do you accuse your __ companion__ of?
    - I accuse my __companion__ of mistreating me.

    a listener is free to infer all kinds and any kind of relationships, don't you think?

    Regards.

    GS
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    The context is clearly a courtroom situation. The "fill in the blank" word will have been established as part of the proceedings before these questions are raised. Whatever word is settled on by the court will be used thereafter, if the names are not used. It will be used as a signifier of their relationship for the purposes of the hearing.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    As an example, there is a term "common-law husband (or wife)" : it will have a specific legal meaning depending on the law of the particular country - the length of time varies and is defined vaguely as "several" for that reason.
    In English law there is no such thing as a "common law" spouse. Marriage is an absolute state. As such it could not be used in a court. Although other than in law, "common law spouse" does have the connotation of "de facto spouse", it also has somewhat pejorative overtones along the lines of the sanctimonious, "Well, we all know what that means!"
     

    AutumnOwl

    Senior Member
    -
    Swedish
    In Sweden cohabitation is almost as common as being married, and there is no difference whether it's a married spouse or a unmarried cohabitee when writing down the name of the closest relative of a patient at the hospital where I work, one of the choices is /spouse/partner/cohabitee/, we also have the interesting relationship of two people considering themselves being cohabitees but not living together for various reasons.
     
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