This article champions a new legal recognition model that emphasises the transformative potential of people’s use of family law. After discussing the flaws of prevailing recognition models, it insists on family formations being unique assemblages that cannot be captured by generalised technical categories. It makes the claim that, rather than one-size-fits-all model for relationship recognition that relies upon dyadic, sexual and domestic relationships, people ought to be able to identify different modules of relationship upon which to base legal recognition or particular legal consequences. It terms this model ‘cont(r)actualisation’, as the law should adopt a new orientation to how people form their normative networks. In the context of relationship recognition, this means that fixed bundles of pregiven labels should not drive recognition; rather, different modules or nodes law users themselves define when performing family ought to define family for law, at least for different legal purposes.