Yapese consider it improper to marry anyone who may be related. Young Yapese generally select their own mates, and most have one or two trial marriages before they establish a permanent relationship that results in children.
Yapese parents prefer that their children marry in the same village, or in similarly ranked villages. However, today with the central high school on the island and young people commuting by bus, many Yapese are marrying people from other villages and other island districts. A Yapese couple generally lives with the husband's family initially, then establishes a permanent residence on the husband's land in the husband's village. Divorce among the Yapese is common, and is enacted by mutual agreement. The young woman will return to her household of birth, leaving any children and property with her husband.
People who eat together constitute the Tabinaw (family core). This household is usually a nuclear family in which a husband and wife work according to a complementary division of labor and responsibility for their subsistence and that of their children. A newly married couple may join the husband's father's household for a temporary period until they establish their own gardens and build a sleeping and cooking house.
Fathers distribute land to their sons according to need and age. The oldest son receives the rights to titled parts of the estate and will assume the father's leadership role among his siblings upon his father's death, and in his younger brothers' families upon their deaths. Younger sons receive an appropriate portion of the estate to support their families. Daughters do not inherit land, but they may be given a gift of a small parcel to provide support in case of divorce. Parents support their unmarried or divorced adult daughters.