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Two partners living together without being married or in a registered partnership do not enjoy the same social and legal rights as a married couple. You can, however, ensure your rights as a couple by signing a cohabitation agreement.
As cohabitation is not recognised in law, you and your partner are to a large extent treated as individuals - and not as a married couple or as a couple in a registered partnership.
Cohabitation has no effect on the surname of either partner. Children from previous relationships keep their original surnames. Any children you have together take the mother’s surname. From 1 January 2013 onwards, joint custody of the children means they can be given their father’s name (the parents must submit a joint application to the civil register office).
Cohabiting has no effect on citizenship applications.
The old-age and survivor’s insurance of each partner is calculated separately. A partner who does not work can make minimal payments to retain their right to old-age and survivor’s insurance. For more information on old-age and survivor’s insurance contribution gaps.
If you break up with your partner, you have no right to claim half of the contributions paid into pension funds and old-age insurance.
There are different types of property ownership: individual ownership, ownership of part of a multi-floor building and shared ownership. The financial participation of both parties is recorded in the land register. Before you buy a property together, you should draw up a written agreement saying who will move out if you break up.
You are taxed individually when you and your partner live together as an unmarried couple. You each complete your own tax return.
When the parents are unmarried, they must make a joint declaration in order to establish joint parental authority. The parents must declare that they:
The declaration can be made at the civil register office at the time of recognition of the child, or at a later date at the Child Protection Authority.
Under the revised Adoption Act, which came into force on 1 January 2018, it is permitted to adopt your partner’s child. More information can be found at: How do I go about adopting my partner’s children?
Registered partnership is only open to same-sex couples. Heterosexual couples who do not want to get married and same-sex couples who do not want to enter a registered partnership, but who still want to ensure legal rights for their partner can draw up a cohabitation agreement.
The cohabitation agreement is not regulated in law. It is advisable to draw up a written agreement. This does not need to be witnessed by a notary as long as it does not contain any provisions relating to inheritance.
The agreement should include the following points: