I am about to get married. What are my rights?
Marriage is a big responsibility and a serious step in life for each of us. It involves many responsibilities. However many do not think about a very special group of relations – property relations. Usually, only when the marriage ends and it’s time for a divorce, the former spouses begin to divide property and to wonder, “What is yours, what’s mine?” And “what to take and what to leave?”. And these issues can be easily avoided if we just think a little before we get married.
According to the Family Code in Bulgaria are known three regimes of property relations during marriage:
1. matrimonial community property – MPC;
3. contractual regime.
The first legal regime of community applies when I haven’t deliberately chosen property relations regime. It also applies to minors and to those with limited interdiction. I should know that:
• Property rights (real estate, cars, etc.) acquired during the marriage as a result of joint contribution, belong to both spouses regardless by whom they were acquired. The contribution may be expressed not only in the use of funds but also in childcare and domestic work.
• Property rights acquired before marriage (and during the marriage as a result of inheritance or donation), belong to the spouse who has acquired them. Movables acquired during the marriage usually used for personal use or for a profession or trade, are personal (I cannot take the razor, deodorant or suitcase and personal tools if my husband is a mechanic for example). The property rights acquired by a spouse – sole trader during the marriage for the exercise of his trade are his private property.
• Property rights acquired using entirely personal funds are also personal. For example, the wife gets a heritage house – it is clear that the husband has no personal contribution to the heritage and this house is beyond the scope of the MPC but the wife decides to sell it and buy a car, this car is outside the regime of MPC as well.
• We have equal rights to common property. During the marriage, one spouse cannot dispose of it without the consent of the other.
• If a spouse disposes of common real estate, the other spouse can challenge the disposition. This right I can exercise six months after this action comes to my knowledge, but not later than three years after it’s committed. The same applies for movable property if the disposition should be made in writing with signatures verified by a notary.
• I have the right to conclude a deal to dispose of my personal property to third parties and to the other spouse. However, if I decide to dispose of our family home, contract can’t be concluded without the consent of the other spouse.
The second mode is the legal regime of separation. Here I should know that:
• The rights acquired by either spouse during the marriage are his personal property (for example, if during the marriage the wife buys a car and her name is stated in the contract, can not obtain property on half the car). If the marriage is terminated by a claim each spouse is entitled to receive a portion of the value of what is acquired by the other during the marriage. Of course, this right is limited to a certain extent – it matters how the spouses have contributed to the family with work, funds, care for their children, domestic work or otherwise.
• When disposing of the family home, the rules are the same as in legal regime of community.
• The costs for the needs of the family are borne by both spouses.
To switch to this regime, we have to explicitly inform the official for civil status when contracting a marriage.
The third mode is the contractual regime. It gives me the opportunity to arrange my property relations through marriage settlement (can be signed by the spouses also at the time of the marriage).
It contains only reservations on property relations between the parties such as:
1. rights of the parties on property that is acquired during the marriage;
2. rights of the parties on their possessions before the marriage;
3. management and disposition of property, including the family home;
4. participation in the costs and obligations;
5. property consequences of eventual divorce;
6. alimony of the spouses during the marriage and in case of a divorce;
7. support money for the children during the marriage;
8. other material aspects, to the extent not contrary to the provisions of the Family Code.
With the marriage contract we cannot settle personal relationships. It may not include arrangements such as:
• How many times a week to carry out intimate contact between the spouses.
• Who, when and how often should throw the garbage.
• Who, when, what and how often should cook.
• Who and how should behave with the parents of the other spouse, etc.
(*) The article aims to explain basic rights under Bulgarian law and it is not to be considered as a legal advisor. We strongly advise you to hire a lawyer, if you experience trouble understanding and using these rights. (*)
Hristo Krasimirov Georgiev
Translated and edited by:
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§ Family Code
§ Comment on the new Family Code