There is a widespread notion that a Portuguese civil partnership practically equates to marriage for all purposes (Civil partnerships are also referred to as civil unions, domestic partnerships, common-law marriages, etc).
This notion is not, however, true. In reality, there are many rights (and responsibilities) for married couples that do not apply to civil partnerships in Portugal.
A Portuguese civil partnership is created when two people of any sex live as man and wife for more than two years, with some exceptions (minors, people with kinship relations, etc.).
Rights granted by civil partnerships in Portugal
In Portugal, the couple members are granted some rights:
- Right to use the family home in case of the civil union ends;
- Right to use the family home in case of the death of one of the couple;
- Some rights as married couples regarding labour rights in terms of holidays, absences, leaves, sick leaves, etc;
- The same fiscal regime as for married couples;
- Social protection in the event of the death of one of the couple’s members (general social security scheme, general retirement fund and other systems);
- Social benefits in the event of death or permanent disability due to an accident at work or an occupational disease.
Civil partnership and inheritance law in Portugal
Regarding Portuguese inheritance law, however, there are great differences between civil partnerships and marriages.
In the case of civil partnerships, the couple members are not heirs to each other.
In the event of the death of one of them, therefore, the other may be deprived of means of subsistence, namely if he does not earn any income. Likewise, there is no right to claim maintenance (alimony) if the union ends for any other reason than the death of one of them.
However, if a member of the couple dies, the other has the right to claim maintenance (alimony) from the inheritance.
Child custody and child support regimes are the same as in the case of married parents.