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Civil partnership in Ukraine: what you need to know?
Author: Yuri Neklyaev
Source: Lexology, 18 November 2020

Marriage registration is an important step in every couple's life. However, nowadays many couples while living as a single family do not officially register their relationship. Everyone has their own opinion on that. At the same time, the civil partnership which in Ukraine is called "living a single family without marriage registration" (hereinafter - the civil partnership) may have legal consequences for both partners.

It should be noted that Ukraine has quite a conservative view on family matters. It is established by law, that marriage is a union of man and woman. Thus, Ukraine currently does not recognize the same-sex marriages. In turn, the civil partnership is considered primarily in the context of the relationship between man and woman.

Each couple, by choosing the civil partnership as a way of cohabitation in Ukraine shall consider the features of such relations. Moreover, everyone has to insure themselves against any property risks that may arise from the civil partnership.

The main feature of the civil partnership in Ukraine is that all property (incl. property rights) acquired during such period by one partner become joint. Such property may include real estate, securities, dividends and even bank deposits.

There are some specific features related to a real estate which is acquired through an investment treaty. In Ukraine developers attract potential buyers with low real estate prices during its construction. As a rule, after the execution of the investment treaty and payment of funds, a significant period lasts until the completion of construction. Therefore, the determining factor in the division of real estate acquired during the civil partnership is not the date of registration of ownership over the newly created property, but the moment (period) of payment for the investment. This means that the payment made under the investment treaty by one partner before entering the civil partnership, does not provide any property rights to another partner even if the ownership would be registered during the civil partnership.

In any case, the property does not become joint automatically. In order to obtain the property rights one partner who claims for such rights must initiate court proceedings and confirm the fact and terms of staying in the civil partnership.

The prospects of the court proceedings depend on the validity of the plaintiff's arguments. At the same time, under certain circumstances establishing of the civil partnership is impossible. For example, if a person is in a registered marriage, he/she has no right to establish through the court the fact of the civil partnership with another person. The nature of the relationship between husband and wife does not matter for such purpose (i.e. even if they do not communicate with each other).

Since the civil partnership may have significant legal consequences for each partner, the courts carefully examine whether the partners have "family" relationship indeed. As a matter of practice, when establishing the fact of civil partnership in Ukrainian courts, the key issue is the proof of the couple's joint household, joint budget and mutual rights and responsibilities which are typical for the spouses. Another important factor is the joint expenses on acquiring property in the common interests of both partners.

Some evidences of cohabitation do not confirm the existence of the civil partnership (if no additional evidences provided), for example:

• joint presence of partners on celebrations;

• cashless transfer of funds between the partners;

• periodic joint travels, etc.

Of course, each of these facts is important, but in absence of other mandatory issues it cannot confirm the existence of the civil partnership.

Obviously, it is better to protect own interests in advance, before the issue passes to court. In order to minimize the risks arisen from the civil partnership, different methods may be used: receipt of the absence of property claims; execution of a notarial agreement on settlement of property issues, etc. There are some other ways to protect yourself from the risk of losing half of property acquired during the civil partnership. The effectiveness of a specific method of protection depends on the circumstances of the acquisition of property (type of property / property rights, the order of registration of ownership, the existence of co-owners, etc.). Therefore, only having a complete picture of the situation, legal advisor can choose the most effective way to protect your interests.

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