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In the following article, we discuss civil unions and unmarried couples.
What are your rights? do you know them?
You can make your partnership official in several EU countries without getting married with a civil union or registered partnership.
Civil unions allow two people who live together as a couple to register their relationship with the relevant public authority in their country of residence.
Differences between EU countries in this field are enormous and include:
RECOGNITION OF CIVIL UNIONS
Some EU countries consider civil unions and registered partnerships equivalent or comparable to marriage.
Countries that allow same-sex marriages generally recognise same-sex registered partnerships concluded in other countries.
In countries that do not allow same-sex marriages but have introduced some form of registered partnership, a same-sex marriage abroad generally gives you the same rights as a registered partnership.
However, the laws of these EU countries do not provide for registered partnerships:
MOVING ABROAD WITH YOUR CIVIL PARTNER
Where civil unions are considered equivalent or comparable to marriage, they give you the same rights for immigration purposes: your registered partner will be entitled to come with you if you settle in these countries.
If you want to move to an EU country that does not recognise registered partnerships, your partnership will be considered a duly attested long-term relationship. Your host country must facilitate the entry and residence of your partner.
If you live together with a partner stably and continuously, you have some EU-wide rights, even if you have not registered your partnership with any authority.
MOVING TO ANOTHER EU COUNTRY
If you move with your de facto partner to another EU country, that country must facilitate their entry and residence there - whether your partner is an EU national or not.
You must prove you live together or are in a long-term relationship. However, most EU countries have not defined exactly how you can establish a long-term relationship or cohabitation.
RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS
In EU countries that recognise de facto unions, you will also have rights and obligations concerning property, inheritance and maintenance payments following a separation.
These rights are particularly important for same-sex couples, as not all EU countries allow them to get married or register their partnership.
Suppose you live in a country where you cannot get married. Suppose you cannot enter into a registered partnership or choose not to do either. In that case, you could set up a cohabitation contract with your partner and settle practical or legal aspects of your cohabitation.
However, even with such a cohabitation contract, it may still be difficult for you to enforce your rights. If property conflicts arise, the country's law where the confrontation occurred will generally apply.
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I'm Natalia Bertelli, an English/Spanish to Italian legal translator. Since 2008 I have been working on contracts, judicial deeds, certificates, corporate translations for foreign clients who want to do business in Italy, get a dual citizenship or simply settle in my beautiful country.