Join us on a journey through the heartwarming story of Sebastian and Adriana as they navigate love across continents and explore legal options in Austria. In this article, we delve into the intricacies of registered partnerships and marriages, shedding light on the legal advantages and disadvantages this dynamic duo faced. Discover the path they chose and gain insights into the nuances of family law, inheritance, and residency in Austria.

A few weeks ago, Sebastian, a good friend was telling me a wonderful story about how he met his girlfriend Adriana in Peru. He was finishing his apprenticeship in Lima and while deciding if he wanted to stay in South America or go back to Europe, he met Adriana and fell in love with her. They both spent a couple of amazing years in South America and after that decided to come to Europe and live in Vienna.

As a next step, Sebastian and Adriana decided to legalize their relationship. But in the dynamic world we live in nowadays the institution of marriage seemed way too binding for them and while looking for alternatives, they found out that the Austrian legal system offers the instrument of registered partnership.

So, they asked me what is a registered partnership, whether is it less binding than a marriage, and how it will affect the residence status of Adriana.

Here is my answer:

On the 1st of January 2010, the registered partnership was introduced in Austria as a legal concept allowing same-sex couples to obtain a legal status similar to the marriage. The idea behind this legal concept was that same-sex couples enjoy the same rights as married couples, so no discrimination issues arise.

Since 1st of January 2019 same-sex couples have been allowed to get married in Austria.

Also, since the 1st of January 2019 the institution of a registered partnership was opened to opposite-sex couples.

In the registered partnership, two people enter a long-term cohabiting relationship with rights and obligations towards one another. The concept is very similar to marriage and nowadays there are only a small number of detail differences between the marriage and the registered partnership.

A registered partnership is established in front of the registry office ( Standesamt ) in the presence of the two partners and two witnesses. In a short ceremony, in which the magistrate asks the partners if they want to enter into a registered partnership, the partners are pronounced to be registered partners, and the registered partnership is recorded in the Central Civil Status Register (Zentrales Personenstandregister). The names of the partners after entering into a registered partnership stay the same.

But what are the legal advantages and disadvantages for Sebastian and Adriana if they want to enroll in a registered partnership instead of getting married?

The answer is very simple – almost none.

Nevertheless, partners should consider that they have to reach the legal age of 18 to enter into a registered partnership. There are no exceptions as in the marriage law rules for partners who have achieved the age of 16.

The registered partnership has the same legal consequences as the marriage. That means that the registered partners are obliged to live together and to support each other.

The less-earning partner has the right to financial support from the other partner.

The partners can adopt children or of course, have their own. In this case, the children will be out of wedlock, in comparison to the marriage where the children are legitimate.

A child is out of wedlock if its parents were not married at the time the child was born. The main difference here is, that the out-of-wedlock children obtain the family name of the mother and always have the same nationality as the mother, even though the child is born in Austria. Furthermore, only the mother is the legal custodian of the child and is allowed to administrate its finances. Of course, the parents can close a different agreement and settle down a joint custody or different family name, which is also recommended if registered partners decide to have a child.

If the father has an Austrian citizenship and acknowledges the paternity within 8 weeks after the birth, the child will obtain the Austrian citizenship also from the day of their birth. In cases, where the acknowledgment is given after the 8th week, changing the nationality of the child undergoes an application process in front of the emigration services..

According to the inheritance law, the registered partner has the same rights as the husband/wife in the marriage, which means that in case the registered partner did not leave a last will the other partner inherits 1/3 of the heritage, the children (if the registered partners have any) – 2/3. If the registered partners do not have children the other partner receives the whole heritage.

In the case that the registered partners want to dissolve their partnership, they underline the same legal rules as married couples. The registered partners can dissolve the partnership by mutual consent or can apply for separation in front of the court if the registered partnership is so deeply disrupted by a serious misconduct of one person that the restoration of a cohabitation cannot be expected (for example physical violence or severe emotional distress). The only difference to marriage is that the registered partnership can be dissolved 3 years after the partners give up the cohabitation, in the case of marriage 6 years should pass.

The division of the partnership’s assets is analogous to the rules under marriage law.

In the case of Sebastian and Adriana also arises the question if there is a difference between a marriage and a registered partnership in terms of applying for a residence permit, which depends on the marital status of the applicant – “Red-White-Red-Card +” or “Status Family Member”.

The answer is no.

The registered partner has the same right as the husband/wife to apply and obtain a residence permit “Red-White-Red-Card +” or “Status Family Member”. Of course, in the case that the application requirements are met.

Considering this information Sebastian and Adriana decided to get married instead of entering a registered partnership because they did not see any advantages of the registered partnership.

If you want to obtain more information about marriage and its legal consequences in Austria or need help in applying for a residence permit, do not hesitate to visit our consulting service. We also answer further legal questions after registration beforehand. You can check the next consultation date here.

Best regards

DI Mag Yana Staykova