When you enter into a lasting relationship with your partner, you are showing your partner that you want to build a future together. The decision on the individual shape of this cohabitation is entirely up to you and your partner – whether you choose a non-marital cohabitation or enter into a legally binding marriage. In any case, however, cohabitation raises numerous questions, such as:
- What happens to each partners' pre-existing assets?
- How are new assets (e.g. real estate) to be acquired? Who will provide the funding and what are the tax consequences?
- Who is liable for any debts and how can such risks be minimised?
- What rights and obligations exist with regard to children?
- What happens in the event of a separation?
- Should my partner be able to act for me if I myself am no longer able to do so due to illness?
- Who will become heir in the event of death and is the partner sufficiently provided for?
Such questions are often answered quite differently by couples, depending on their personal life situation and their ideas about their future. It therefore makes sense to seek advice on the applicable legal regulations and to decide for yourself whether they are in line with your ideas or whether they should be adapted. Your notary is qualified to provide such advice and answer your questions. Furthermore, due to his mandatory impartiality, he can mediate especially in the case of conflicting interests of the partners and will ensure that all agreements are fair and balanced.
Marriage contract (“prenup”)
The legislator has put a series of legal consequences for marriage in place, some of which become significant during the marriage, others only in the event of separation or divorce. They relate in particular to the areas of matrimonial property, the partner’s entitlement to maintenance and alimonies and provision in retirement. In principle, you can adapt these regulations to your individual needs. Because of the sometimes far-reaching consequences and to ensure impartial legal advice, the legislator has prescribed notarisation for the conclusion of a marriage contract. The marriage contract can be concluded both before and after the day of the marriage.
Separation and divorce agreement
When a marriage fails, this is not only a personally stressful event, but a multitude of legal and economic issues arise as well. If the partners succeed in resolving these amicably, this not only saves exhausting disputes, but also enables the divorce proceedings to be concluded more quickly and at lower cost. Last but not least, a solution found by mutual consent regularly enjoys greater acceptance among the former partners than a court decision.
Your notary will advise you on the questions at hand and support you as a neutral legal advisor, working out fair solutions. You can then set out your individual agreements in a notarised separation or divorce agreement.
For married couples, the legislator has provided a number of legal consequences for cohabitation as well as for a possible separation and divorce. In principle, these regulations do not apply to non-marital couples. This can lead to inappropriate results, especially if a cohabitation has been established for a long time, if joint investments are made ( such as for a real estate or a car), or if children have been born. As partners in a non-marital cohabitation, you should therefore consider which regulations should apply to living together or in the event of a separation and record these in a partnership agreement.
You should also think about the distribution of assets after the death of one partner and make provisions for the protection of the other partner since, unlike spouses, non-marital partners have no right of intestate succession. Therefore, they do not become heirs automatically. In order to protect your partner, you should consider making a last will or entering into a contract of inheritance.