Family law consequences of the same-sex union

date: 17 May 2021

location: Webinar (Institute for European Studies, Belgrade)

presenters: Professor Dr. Gordana Kovaček Stanić

moderators: -

themes: Same-sex Union

Professor Dr. Gordana Kovaček Stanić
Family law, Comparative family law, Inheritance law
The Head of the Civil Law Chair
Faculty of Law, Univ. of Novi Sad, Serbia

The main reason for choosing this theme was the recent Serbian Draft Act on same-sex unions. The regulation of same-sex unions differs across European countries, with the existence of three main concepts: registered partnership (e.g. Slovenia, Hungary, Czech Republic), same-sex marriage (e.g. the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Spain, Portugal, Germany, France, England and Wales, Switzerland, Iceland), and de facto civil partnership, which does not require formalities. Parallel concepts exist for registered and de facto partnerships in some countries (e.g. Croatia, Slovenia) while legislation on same-sex unions is not available in others (e.g. Russia, Bosnia and Herzegovina).

The concept of registered partnership is accepted in several European countries but is not applied uniformly. Differences regarding legal effect and dissolution of the registered partnership were included in laws on registered partnerships before the acceptance of same-sex marriage. Thus, there are two groups of laws. One group of countries stipulate legal effects very similar or identical to those of marriage. The dissolution of the registered partnership in this group is also similar to that of marriage, namely, the competent authority is the court (e.g. Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Germany). In the other group, legal effects differ from those of marriage, especially in personal relationships between partners, parent-child relationships, and inheritance (e.g. France, England, and Wales). As for divorce, the competent authority for the dissolution of the registered partnership is the administrative authority and not the court (e.g. France).

The Draft Act on same-sex unions is currently under development in Serbia. If this law is passed, it will come into effect almost 35 years after the first law on same-sex unions was passed in Sweden. The Draft Act regulates two types of same-sex unions: registered and de facto same-sex unions. Hence, the parallelism of concepts exists between registered and de facto partnerships like in Croatia and Slovenia.

Serbian legislation can be classified into laws that regulate legal effects and dissolution of registered same-sex unions similar to that of marriage.

A registered same-sex union is defined as the union of two same-sex persons by a competent authority. Not registered (de facto) same-sex union is the union of two same-sex persons that is not authorized by a competent body. The latter is considered a same-sex union with legal effect only if there are no impediments to the union.

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