Civil Unions

The so-called, Legge Cirinnà, passed on 20 May 2016, regulates and recognises civil unions between same-sex couples, giving them the right not to be discriminated against.

Civil unions

How can a civil union be made?

Same-sex people of 18 years and over, m

ay enter into a civil union. How? By going before the local registrar together with two witnesses. The union deed is then recorded in the Vital Records Registry (Anagrafe) of the Municipality where the couple is resident.

Are inheritance rights recognised in civil unions?

In the past, even if the couple had been in a relationship spanning decades, when one of the partners died, the other one could not claim any inheritance rights. In effect, the surviving partner was completely excluded from succession. Only if stipulated in a Will, could an individual benefit from a bequest. The remaining quota went to the decedent’s family and next-of-kins.

Today, thanks to the Cirinnà Act, there is interesting news about inheritance rights in favour of a decedent’s relatives where no Will has been drafted. This is applicable to couples who are married or in a civil union: where a partner dies intestate, the deceased’s spouse is entitled to the whole estate if there are no children, ascendants and siblings; 1/2 of the estate if there is a child; 1/3 of the estate if there is more than one child; 2/3 of the estate if there are ascendants or siblings.

Where couples are cohabiting, but not married or in a civil union, this law does not apply.

Is the reserved quota to be recognised in civil unions?

In Italian law, there is a portion of the estate – the so-called reserved quota – which cannot be breached either  in a Will or by means of donations or other gifts granted during the decedent’s life: this is the case both for married couples and for civil union couples. More specifically, the surviving partner shall be entitled to:

  • 1/2 of the estate if the deceased had no children or ascendants
  • 1/3 of the estate if there is a child;
  • 1/4 of the estate if the is more than one child;
  • 1/2 of the estate if there are no children but ascendants.

There is no provision for inheritance rights, or rights to a reserved quota where a couple is cohabiting.