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Civil partnerships: the Senate has approved the recognition of same-sex couples and their cohabitation

The substantial amendment regulating Civil partnerships was approved with 173 votes in favor and 71 against, following a motion of confidence presented by the Renzi government. Only one article, consisting of 69 subsections, replaces the 23 subsections of the Cirinnà Bill, introducing a new specific institution for same sex couples.

foto SIR/Marco Calvarese

Following a motion of confidence presented by the government, the substantial amendment regulating Civil partnerships was given the greet light with 173 ayes and 71 votes against. Only one article, consisting of 69 subsections, replaces the 23 subsections of the Cirinnà Bill, introducing a new specific institution for same sex partners, under Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution, regulating de facto cohabitations.

Under the new law, to stipulate a civil partnership two people over-18 can present themselves before civil registrars that proceed with the registration. Civil partnerships cannot be applied: to those already married or who have already legally registered their partnership; to those with diagnosed mental disabilities; those sentenced on charges of murder or attempted murder of their ex-spouse or the partner of a legal partnership; to partners who are relatives. The existence of one of above-mentioned impediments involves the annulment of the registered partnership while all those with legitimate, current interests can contest partnerships registered in violation of one of these clauses.

Surname. With a declaration submitted to the registrar the parties may choose a common surname from their respective surnames, valid for the duration of their civil partnership. The partner has the faculty to decide whether to insert the common surname before or after his/her last name, if different, with a statement presented to the registrar.

Rights and duties. With the constitution of legal partnerships same-sex partners acquire the same rights and assume the same obligations, along with the obligation to mutual moral and material support and to cohabitation. Both sides are expected to contribute to common needs. The property regime of legal partnerships, in the absence of other property agreements, consists in community of property. With respect to form, modification, simulation and capabilities to undersign property statements such duties fall under the Civil Code and the parties may not derogate from the rights or the duties enshrined by the law as a result of the civil partnership. The death of one of the two partners determines the termination of the partnership, so does the will of the dissolution of the partnership manifested before the registrar by one of the partners. In this case the legal partnership is dissolved three months after the declaration.

Adoptions. Subsection 20 envisages that in order to protect rights and duties the provisions on marriage and the provisions containing the words “spouse”, “spouses” or corresponding terms lay down in laws, legally binding deeds, regulations, along with administrative acts and collective agreements, are applied also to each one of the same-sex partners united in a legal partnership. The provision does not apply to Civil Code regulations that are not explicitly referred to in the present law, nor to the provisions of Law 4 May 1983, n. 184 (which regulates adoptions, editor’s note), without prejudice to the provisions on adoption enshrined in the Laws in force.

Cohabitation. Subsection 36 regulates de facto cohabitations, whereby the “de facto cohabitees” are two persons of full age united by a stable affective relationship and by mutual and material assistance, not bound by blood, affinity or adoption ties, by marriage or by other legal partnerships. Provisions relating to marriage enshrined in the Civil Code as those relating to prison term, illness and the hospitalization of one of the partners, family reunification if one of the two is a foreigner, marriage leave, family allowances, and insurance premiums, are hereby extended. Persons stipulating a pact of cohabitation can designate the other partner to act on his/her behalf to take decisions in the event of illness or in case of death. If one of the two dies, the surviving partner is recognized the right to inheritance and to a survivor’s pension.

Contract. De facto cohabitees can regulate property relations in respect of their cohabitation with the signing of a contract of cohabitation whose amendments and resolution shall be drafted in writing, under penalty of annulment, with a public act or private deed with a signature authenticated by a notary or a lawyer certifying its compliance. The professional who has received the deed must transmit a certified copy to the municipality of residence of the partners for civil registration within ten days. The contract will be considered incurably void – a right that can be exercised by any interested party – if concluded in the presence of a marriage bond, a civil union or other cohabitation agreement; in violation of paragraph 36; by a child or adolescent. The cohabitation contract can be terminated by agreement of the parties; through unilateral termination; marriage or civil union between cohabitees or between a partner and the other person; in case of death of one of the contracting parties.

Protection in the case of dissolution.
In the case of unilateral termination of a cohabitation contract the professional authenticating or receiving the deed must transmit a certified copy to the other contracting party. In case the family home is the exclusive property of the terminating party, the dissolution statement, under penalty of annulment, must stipulate the deadline – not less than 90 days – by which the cohabitee must leave the home. In case of termination of a de facto cohabitation, the judge can establish the right of one of the two parties to receive alimony in case the party is in a state of need, as in civilly contracted marriages, to be granted for a period proportionate to the duration of the cohabitation, whose amount will be determined in compliance with the Civil Code.



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