Concubinage: In Which Way is It Different From Marriage?

In our modern world many couples live together without any formal marriage. That situation is described by an old Latin term “concubinage” meaning a civil union of two citizens wishing to build up a common life, however, without getting married. The mentioned phenomenon still exists gaining more and more popularity. It is widely used in Poland as well. That is why one may ask what are legal consequences of living in concubinage? For instance, how such issues as common children, inheritance or alimonies on behalf of one of the partners will be solved in this case?

Unlike a married couple, partners living in concubinage do not have any common property by default. There is no “common marital property” in case of concubinage. Therefore, persons wishing to have joint rights over a property should both become parties to the contract (for example, the contract for sale of an immovable property). However, in case of children maintenance, the rules for concubinage are identical to those for marriage. Parents have the duty to maintain their common children whatever their relationship status is. That is why the rules on alimonies for children coming from a civil union are the same as for those coming from a legal marriage. Nevertheless, a former partner cannot claim alimonies for himself or herself even being in a state of scarcity.

It should be borne in mind that, unlike in case of married couples, a partner of a deceased person does not inherit his or her property by law. Hence, if you wish to transfer your property after death to your partner, the only solution is to mention him or her in your testament. At the same time, a partner is not generally responsible for personal debts of another partner. However, the responsibility for the partner’s debts may take place for the partner being a guarantor of the loan.

As one might deduce from the facts presented above, rules of the Family and Guardianship Code do not apply for the so-called “civil unions” or concubinages. Apart from the obligation to maintain common children, most of the “family” and civil relations of partners forming concubinage differ from those of a married couple. That is why in some cases it seems plausible to members of concubinage to take up separate actions in order to strengthen legal ties between the partners. That might be done, for example, by jointly entering into a contract of renting an apartment or drawing a sort of power of attorney in accordance to which one partner can represent the other one in some financial or civil matters.

Summing up, living in concubinage with a partner entails some legal effects that are to be taken into consideration by both partners. That is why unmarried partners should consider referring to lawyers in order to be prepared for legal peculiarities of their life in concubinage.