Property rights and duties of spouses in Ukraine

Almost all relations between spouses as well as between other relatives are mainly regulated by the Family Code of Ukraine effective as of 1 January, 2004.

The Code provides two types of spouses' property: private property of each one of the spouses and joint property.

Clause 57 of the Family Code of Ukraine provides the following private property of each one of the spouses:

- property acquired by a husband/wife before marriage;

- property acquired by a husband/wife in marriage as gift or heritage;

- property acquired by a husband/wife in marriage with money owned by him or her personally;

- property of personal use, including valuables purchased with joint money of spouses;

- awards, prizes gained for personal achievements of a husband/wife. However a court can adjudge a right of the other spouse for a part of this award if he/she facilitated for the same (by housekeeping, upbringing children etc.);

- assets, which he/she got as compensation for damage of his/her personal property;

- insurance money, which he/she got as a result of a required or voluntary personal insurance;

- property purchased during separate living of spouses due to termination of their family relationships;

- part of the property purchases by spouses with their joint money and also with personal money of one of the spouses in proportion with the amount of the personal money spent.

Clause 58 of the Family Code of Ukraine provides the legal regime of fruits brought by the private property of each spouse. Namely, if such private property gives fruits or income, the owner of this property owns these fruits and income as well. The regime of use of the private property is determined by owner of the same.

However, owner of such property has to consider interests of children, other members of his/her family, who have the right to use this property – as provided by clause 59 of the Family Code of Ukraine.

Joint property of spouses. Clause 60 of the Family Code of Ukraine provides that property acquired by spouses during their marriage is considered to be the joint property (jointly owned property) irrespectively of personal income and occupation of spouses during their marriage (studies, housekeeping, taking care of children, illness, etc.). Therefore, in accordance with the above provisions of Ukrainian legislation all the property purchased during marriage is considered to be an object of the joint ownership except for property of personal use.

Even property for professional occupation (musical instruments, office equipment, medical equipment etc.), purchased in marriage for one of the spouses is considered to be the joint property, as it is provided by clause 61 of the Family Code of Ukraine.

Any one of the spouses as well can acquire a part of private property of the other one of the spouses, if the private property of the last was significantly enlarged in value as a result of joint work, finance or for account of the other spouse during their marriage in accordance with clause 62 of the Family Code of Ukraine.

Rights of spouses as regarding their joint property. In accordance with clause 63 of the Family Code of Ukraine, spouses have equal rights to possess, use and dispose of property owned by the family if there is no separate agreement between them.

Clause 64 of the Family Code of Ukraine gives a husband and a wife the right to conclude all types of civil contracts between themselves, which are not forbidden by the applicable law as concerning his/her personal property and also their joint property.

Spouses dispose of their joint property by their mutual consent. This rule is stipulated in clause 65 of the Family Code of Ukraine. One of spouses has the right to conclude a contract in interests of the family only having consent of the other spouse. If such a contract is made without consent of the other spouse, it can be considered null and void by the court following appropriate application of the other spouse.

The same clause of the Family Code of Ukraine provides that the contract, which requires notarization and/or state registration as well as contracts concerning the valuable property, can be concluded by either of the spouses only if the other spouse have given his/her written consent for the same. Such consent also requires notarization. The contract, which was made by one of the spouses in interests of the entire family, produces obligations for the other spouse as well.

Spouses have the right to come into agreement as concerning use of their joint property. Such right is provided by clause 66 of the Family Code of Ukraine.

A husband/wife has the right to make contract for sale and purchase, exchange, gifting, pledge only after his/her part of the joint property has been determined and apportioned specifically or after the order of use of this property has been determined. A wife/husband can make her/his will about her/his part of joint property before it has been determined and apportioned specifically (clause 67 of the Family Code of Ukraine).

In accordance with clause 68 of the Family code of Ukraine a divorce does not cancel the right of joint ownership of property purchased during the marriage. After divorce the former spouses are considered to be the joint owners of their former joint family property and such property can be disposed by them only after their mutual consent in accordance with provisions of the Civil Code of Ukraine.

The Family Code of Ukraine provides that divorce does not entail obligatory separation of joint property of the former spouses. More then this, following provisions of clause 69 of the Family Code of Ukraine, both spouses have the right to divide their joint property irrespectively of their divorce. They can divide their property after their mutual agreement. Agreement about separation of a house, flat, and other immovable property as well as agreement on apportionment of a part of the immovable property from the whole amount of the property is to be certified by a notary. If there will be no agreement reached among the spouses (former spouses) each one of them can file a claim to the competent court with request to divide the property.

The Family Code of Ukraine and namely clause 74 of the same provides the radical provisions as regarding the joint property of a man and a woman, who live as a family, but have not registered their marriage (so called common-law marriage). According to this clause a common-law marriage is considered in Ukraine to have the same legal consequences as the registered marriage. It means that a woman and a man living together without registration have the same rights and duties as spouses in the registered marriage. Therefore, in the same manner as it is provided by the Code for persons living in a registered marriage, property acquired by these persons during their common-law marriage belongs to them jointly if otherwise is not provided by a written agreement between them.

In general it should be mentioned that the Civil Code of Ukraine provides quite extensive regulation of personal and property rights and duties of spouses in Ukraine as well as regulations as concerning other family relations and relations with other relatives.

Therewith section 10 of the Family Code of Ukraine grants spouses the right to enter into a marriage (prenuptial) contract between them and to regulate their property rights in other manner then it is provided by the Family Code of Ukraine.

Accordingly, there are two ways to settle the property relations between spouses in Ukraine:

- by default such relations are governed by provisions of the Family Code of Ukraine;

- by a marriage (prenuptial) contract between spouses.

That means that by default regulations of the Family Code of Ukraine each of the spouses has the right to get a half of all joint property of spouses in the case of divorce. If people wishing to get married or people already married want to regulate their property relations otherwise, they have the right to conclude a marriage (prenuptial) contract, which will govern all or a part of their property relations.

However non-residents of Ukraine should keep in mind that there is also the Law of Ukraine "About International Private Law" effective as of September 9, 2005, which provides some collision norms and allows moving marriage (and accordingly relations between spouses, including their property relations) with a Ukrainian citizen out of Ukrainian jurisdiction and to make it regulated by non-Ukrainian laws.

The above information is provided herein in educational and informative purposes only. It is provided that you have to get appropriate legal advice as regarding the family relations of your interest in Ukraine in order to have the exact, extensive and up-to-date legal information.

Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or issues of legal nature, our Law Firm is working for you and our experienced legal specialists are always ready to help providing the client with appropriate legal consultations, legal reports and summaries, reasonable legal advices and all the other requires legal support, assistance, coverage and protection.

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