Different family models

The concept of a family evolves, and may comprise different models of relationships between family members.

A legally recognized relationship

The Latvian Civil Law defines a family in a narrow sense – as the relationship between:  

  • spouses
  • spouses and their children, while they are still part of a common household

A family, in a narrow sense, is a legally recognized relationship established through marriage between spouses and between parents and their children based on biological ties or adoption.  

important From the legal point of view, relations between an adoptive parent and an adopted child are the same as the family relations between parents and their biological child. 

A single parent family

A relationship between two parents and their child forms the traditional family model, whether the relationship between both parents is legally recognized or not. A family may nevertheless also consist of one unmarried or divorced parent living together with his/her child. 

example A single mother who is raising her child, even if the child’s father is unknown, will be considered a family.


A couple does not necessarily have to be married in order to be considered a family. For example, the couple may have registered a civil partnership (civil union) if the national law provides for such legal recognition of a couple. 

important The Latvian law does not provide for the registration of a civil partnership.

Factual relationship

A close personal relationship that has developed without any legal recognition, may also constitute a family. A number of factors may be relevant in assessing whether such relationship can be considered a family: 

  • whether the couple lives together
  • the length of their relationship
  • whether they have children in common 
  • whether they have demonstrated their commitment to each other by any other means

example An unmarried couple that has been living together for several years and has a child in common will be considered a family.

Read more about factual relationship.

Same-sex couples

A relationship between two persons of the same-sex who are co-habiting, whether they are in a registered partnership or not, may fall within the concept of family life.

important Please be aware that at this moment it is not possible for a same-sex couple to marry or register a civil partnership in Latvia. However, according to a recent judgement by the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia, the Latvian Parliament is bound to draft the legal regulation for relationship between same-sex partners.

In order to evaluate whether the relationship of a same-sex couple can be considered a family, the same factors have to be evaluated as in the case of a co-habiting opposite-sex couple.


Last updated 22/03/2024