According to Statistics Austria, around 830,000 people live in non-formal communities, i.e. outside of marriage or a registered partnership. However, especially in the age group up to around 34 years of age, these communities are roughly balanced with registered partnerships and marriages. According to current statistics, the rate of children born out of wedlock is around 42%. Since 2007, the majority of first-born children have been born outside of a marriage or registered partnership. Measured against this overall social significance of the partnership, there are basically no legal framework conditions in this context, so that the life partners regularly move in the open field of general civil law, which is actually inhospitable for questions of family life (matters with regard to children are not treated differently than in the case of separation of married or registered couples). For example, if partners buy a condominium together or build a house together (although there are often different contributions from the respective families of origin, either in the form of a donated property, financial support or work), the question will regularly arise as to whether – expressly or even implicitly – it has come to work together in the form of a so-called “civil law partnership”, a form of general civil law that is otherwise rarely used in everyday life, and how this is to be processed or dissolved in the event of a separation. However, the legal situation of partners can also be problematic regardless of the existence of a home, for example if only one party is the tenant of the previously shared apartment and accordingly the other party has no right to this apartment which is supposedly shared. But also the dissolution of joint tenancies between two people is by no means easy from a legal point of view. Claims for maintenance by former partners are not provided for by the law and therefore cannot be derived from such a law (although a distinction must be made between maintenance claims for the common children). There is hardly any empirical value and case law in this context, not least because such proceedings are regularly no longer dealt with in the district courts but in the regional courts due to the amount in dispute. They are therefore far more expensive and their outcome is often uncertain. The question often arises as to whether an consensual solution – whether achieved within the framework of mediation or outside of it – is not more pragmatic than conducting a contentious dispute in court. This is all the more the case as cohabitation also regularly produces children and such disputes will generally not have a positive effect on their living situation.
We also have many years of experience in this area, both in terms of conducting disputes and working out consensual solutions. If an agreement is not possible, we are happy to offer the necessary support in enforcing possible claims in court – as mentioned, however, care should always be taken to ensure that the probable procedural effort justifies the procedural result that can be achieved in the best case.