Russian Duma is to consider a draft law on de facto marriages. Senator Anton Belyaev, known for legal initiatives that stir the Russian society, believes that the government should recognize and protect such relationships.
The call to give legitimacy to de facto marriages in Russia
The main idea of the proposed legislation is to amend the Family Code of Russia and introduce a concept of “de facto marital relations” that will get the same legal standing as registered marriages, once they meet certain milestones, as per the draft law.
The law proposes that if a man and a woman have lived together for 5 years (2 years if a child was born in the relationship), they should get the same rights as the couples who have officially registered a marriage.
- The right to each other’s property when separating.
- Being viewed as an immediate heir in case of the death of the spouse.
- Being allowed to visit the spouse in hospital as a family member.
- And others.
At the moment de facto relationships are not regulated in Russia by law although such unions become increasingly more common.
In fact, it is fairly easy to prove that two people have been living together. There could be witnesses who are able to confirm it.
The law will also consider such proof as:
- Bank transactions;
- Photos from vacations.
Decline in marriages in Russia
The senator known for his radical legislative initiatives, including a ban on surrogacy in Russia, is now lobbying for legalizations of de facto marriages, which caused quite a division in the Russian society.
“According to the date by the Ministry of Labour, 2016 became the year with the lowest number of officially registered marriages in the Russian Federation for the last 20 years“, the senator complained, as quoted by TASS.
“Also, just like n the majority of foreign countries, our compatriots do not consider a stamp in the passport to be a necessary condition of creating a valid family. Moreover, as the last surveys showed, Russians don’t separate the concepts of a marriage that is unregistered and a marriage that is official. However, from the point of view of the law, the so called cohabitation is not recognized and doesn’t cause any legal consequences, which make the members of such a union in a very vulnerable position”, Belyaev emphasized.
The senator also wants to bring the Russian legal framework closer to European legislations, citing examples of Sweden, Netherlands, Norway, France, and Germany.
The first step towards such a change, Belyaev believes, should be giving de facto spouses the above-mentioned right to own common property. Just the same as with official marriages in Russia, the parties cannot be closely related, married to someone else and should meet the legal age requirements in their jurisdiction (which in some areas of Russia is as low as 14 years old, in special circumstances such as a birth of a child or pregnancy).
Attorney Stalina Gurevich feels positive about the proposed legislation on de facto unions in Russia, MK.ru reports. Although she agrees that people who live together consider each other husband and wife, even though they may have only been together for half a year.
Such law, she believes, will be helpful in defining their legal status, since in western countries people who cohabit call each other girlfriend and boyfriend.
As the moment, as she highlighted, even if a pair lived together for 20 years, there are no legal implications such as the right to claim inheritance or a share of a property in case of separation.
She also believes the legislation, if accepted, will assist people in same-sex relations, who also need protection. Under the terms of a “domestic partnership” they would also gain a legal status. However, the attorney doesn’t think that the law has a high chance of getting through the Russian Duma due to a significant share of traditionalists who believe that only registered marriages should be lawful.
In some countries, domestic partnerships are legally recognized and mostly used for homosexual couples.
- A year ago in Great Britain, the London Court of Appeal rejected a complaint of a heterosexual couple who wanted to register a domestic partnership. The court decided that it is required for both partners to be of the same sex for that purpose.
- The German law recognizes registered marriages and domestic partnerships, and the legal implications of both. De facto spouses may enter into a contract regulating their property relations.
- In France, there is a “civil contract of solidarity” (PACS), which gives both homosexual and heterosexual couples certain personal and property rights. The main difference is that such a contract can upon request of one of the partners be terminated at any time. For instance, a former French President François Hollande and his partner Julie Gayet have such an arrangement.
WCIOM.ru conducted a poll on how Russians view cohabitation and de facto marriages.
- 46% of locals view men and women living together without official registration of a marriage as normal.
- Among unmarried people, 56% see living together as normal.
- 71% of Russians stated that people who want to have kids should register a marriage.
- However, 50% of respondents stated they do not support the new legislative initiative to make registered unions equal to unregistered ones. Only 38% of Russians support it; 12% declined to give an answer.
- Among women, there are more supporters of the initiative (39%). Only 36% of men support it.
Review the detailed poll results below (click to enlarge).
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