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Visit to Registrar’s Office may lose importance as family-building ritual

April 30, 2015, 19:23 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila
© ITAR-TASS/Zurab Dzhavakhadze

MOSCOW, April 30. /TASS/. Proposals for making the unregistered (frequently referred to as common law marriage) equal in status to the officially registered one, with all the ensuing legal consequences, looks unnecessary and hopeless to some Russian experts. On the contrary, others argue it would be very useful from the standpoint of obtaining accurate social statistics. In any case, an overwhelming majority regard the "Married to ..." stamp in the passport as not essential for a happy family life.

As lawyer Aleksandr Dobrovinsky has told Rossiiskaya Gazeta, a group of activists will start a sign-up campaign with the aim to collect 100,000 signatures in support of the proposal for amending the family code declaring cohabitation equivalent in status to the officially registered wedlock. The idea’s brain fathers hope this may prove a good way of encouraging childbirth, because for most women the question of status is really important.

"We are for making cohabitation identical to official marriage after the two have spent some time together. Should they part, the acquired property will be shared 50:50," the lawyer speculates. He believes that two years is a period long enough for recognizing cohabitation a marriage.

"We suggest that courts should be obliged to look into the reasons behind each divorce and to punish the culprit materially when distributing the common assets. In that case there may be not just a 50:50 ratio, but 30:70, or 45:55, or any other in favor of the person who has suffered from the breakup of the ‘vital cell of society,’ the lawyer said.

According to the effective Family Code, the unregistered co-habitation of a man and a woman does not entail marital rights and duties, although the rights of duties of children born in and out of wedlock are the same.

In the meantime, the idea of a common law marriage as a "foreword" to official marriage is getting ingrained in society ever more deeply. A poll by the public opinion studies centre FOM, held two years ago, found that 54% believe it is quite reasonable to try to live together for a while before the official wedding, but it is worth registering relations in the end. Otherwise, it makes no sense to start a joint life altogether," 48% of Russians said with certainty.

"A common law marriage is a kind of relationship that is bound to last," family psychoanalyst Larisa Solovyova told TASS. "That’s just an excuse for not doing anything else. Although it is a verbal contract from the outset, quite often a woman with a child comes to the psychoanalyst for advice, because both feel sort of suspended in this situation of uncertainty."

Very often, she explains, the man sincerely likes this status, while the woman does not. And although many women try to conceal their feelings, somewhere deep down in the heart the woman wants the partner to back up the relations with some solid obligations.

The chief of public relations at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Psychology Institute, Konstantin Zuyev, has personally questioned 1,200 men and women to find out that 92% of the respondents regarded unregistered marriages as normal families. "In other words, society is in fact prepared for treating common law marriages and registered ones as equals," he told TASS. "The problem of property sharing is a totally different matter," he added.

According to the expert’s findings 70%-80% of the respondents believe that the family cannot exist without tight spiritual bonds, while formalities are of secondary importance.

"In other words, psychology comes first thing," he added.

Proposed changes to family legislation are unlikely to cause any tangible impact on the matrimonial intentions of most Russians, he believes. "Common law marriages are perceived by many as preparations for the real ones, but in that case they may last for too long."

"This is a manifestation of infantilism," he remarked.

Generally speaking, Zuyev concluded, the idea of putting common law marriages on record is a useful idea. No official statistics are available at this point how many people are partners in common law marriages. Nor is it possible to say how many couples break up.

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