Amendments to the Family Code enter into force

On Tuesday, 31st January 2023, the Act Amending the Family Code (hereinafter: “the Act”) entered into force. It provides for a change in the definition of marriage and cohabitation for same-sex and same-sex partners. Marriage is now defined as a living union of two persons and no longer as a living union of husband and wife. The same definition applies to cohabitation, as a long-term living union between two persons.

The amendments to the Family Code (hereinafter: “DZ”) are the result of a decision of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Slovenia, No U-I-486/20, of 16 June 2022, by which the Constitutional Court ruled that the legal regime in the part of the DZ and the previously applicable Marriage and Family Relations Act (hereinafter: “ZZZDR”), which provides that marriage is the union of a husband and a wife, is incompatible with the Constitution. It also ruled that the regulation of the possibility of joint adoption of a child, which was only possible for spouses under the ZZZDR and for spouses or cohabiting partners under the DZ, was incompatible with the Constitution.

Until the Act entered into force, the regime adopted by the Constitutional Court was already in force, according to which marriage was considered to be a union of two persons. Joint adoption by same-sex partners living in a civil partnership was subject to the same rules as those applicable to joint adoption by spouses under the legal regime in force at the time. Thus, same-sex partners were already able to marry and jointly adopt a child on the basis of the Constitutional Court’s decision.

With the amendments to the DZ, same-sex partners in a marriage or cohabitation are now fully equal to same-sex partners in all legal consequences under the DZ, as well as in other areas of law. This also applies to the adoption of children.

Since the Act defines both forms of civil partnership in the same way for opposite-sex and same-sex partners, the special regulation of both forms of civil partnership for same-sex partners only in the Civil Union Act (hereinafter: “ZPZ”) is no longer necessary, and the Act also provides for the expiry of the ZPZ and an interim period of its application.

The Act also provides for the way in which existing partnerships can be transformed into marriages. In its transitional and final provisions, the Law provides as follows:

  • A partnership shall be converted into a marriage if, within six months of the entry into force of this Act, the partners of the partnership declare before the registrar their consent to the conversion of the partnership into a marriage.
  • If, within six months after the entry into force of this Act, the partners or one of them declares before the registrar that he or she does not wish the partnership to be converted into a marriage under this Act, the partnership shall be dissolved on the day of such declaration.
  • If the partners of the partnership do not declare before the registrar within six months after the entry into force of this Act that they wish to convert the partnership into a marriage, the partnership shall terminate six months after the entry into force of this Act.
  • The Act also provides that a civil partnership shall not be dissolved six months after the entry into force of this Act if the partners in the civil partnership do not, within that period and for good cause shown, declare that they wish to convert the civil partnership into a marriage under this Act. The partners may make a declaration of conversion to a marriage within two months of the cessation of those grounds.
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