Assets, children and separation in a registered relationship

Jun 16, 2021.

Registered relationships are based on much the same legal principles as marriage. But there are a few key differences. This especially applies to matrimonial property law, which regulates financial circumstances between people in couples. If you live in this kind of partnership, you should think about what is important to you in case you separate, or if there is a child in the partnership. Generali expert Guido Studier has the answers to all the key questions.


Guido, why should a same-sex couple register their partnership?

Because once you’re registered with the registry office, you’re subject to many of the same rights and obligations as apply to married couples. For example, in an emergency, both partners can benefit from benefits from the 1st and 2nd pillar and determine responsibilities for any children in the partnership. And you can even define a shared family name. For a registered relationship, both partners must be of legal age and at least one of them must live in Switzerland. And joint taxation applies here, just as it does with married couples.


How are responsibilities regulated if a partner brings a child into this registered relationship?

In this case, the partner bears joint responsibility for the child, including maintenance and parental duties. And since 2018, there has also been the option of “stepchild adoption” for couples living in the same household for three years or more. The law does not allow for same-sex couples to adopt someone else’s child or use artificial insemination.


What are the financial consequences if the registered relationship is dissolved?

Unless otherwise agreed, in principle the separation of property applies. This means that after the registered relationship is dissolved, both parties take their own assets and debts with them. Assets that both of them own equally are either divided up or allotted to one of the two who compensates the other for them. Each person is completely responsible for their own maintenance, unless one party has worked less during the partnership by mutual agreement and is facing financial problems after the dissolution.


How can couples protect themselves with registration if they do not want a separation of property?

Couples often sign a property agreement if they want to define a different property regime. Please note that this agreement must be certified by a notary. It determines things like who will receive what share of the joint assets or the shared home after the partnership has been dissolved. It also regulates who is entitled to the assets of the deceased in the event of the death of the other. With or without a property agreement, the second pillar savings accrued during the partnership are divided in half.


Good to know: Living will and lasting power of attorney

This is what you should define in a registered relationship in case of an emergency.

Changes if marriage equality is adopted in September 2021

Registered partners will have to actively have their registered relationship converted to a marriage. Participation in acquired property will apply as standard, as in the case of marriage, and you can adjust it yourself through the marriage contract. There is still some uncertainty around the first and second pillar, which will have to be adjusted for same-sex couples.


About the author

“If you live in a registered relationship, you should think about what matters to you in case you separate – especially if the partnership includes a child.” 


Guido G. Studier, Training Expert at Generali

Guido studied business economics and is a VBV-certified insurance specialist (Federal Diploma). He has been in the insurance industry for 25 years and trains insurance experts in the Generali Academy. Guido has an Executive Master of Finance ZHAW and is also an EHB-certified teacher of economics and society (Federal Diploma) and a member of #TeamPensions.