Danish family and sucession law regulate three models of the couples's relationships: 

  • MARRIAGE between persons of the opposite and same sex

  • REGISTERED PARTNERSHIP between persons of the same sex

  • DE FACTO COHABITATION between persons of the opposite or same sex 

Marriage is regulated by The Marriage and Matrimonial Causes Act, The Act on Spouses’ Financial Matters and The Act on Division Spouses’ Asset. Since 2012 (Act No. 532 of 12 June 2012) registered couples can convert their partnership into marriage. It is no longer possible to register new same-sex unions. De facto cohabitation is legally defined in specific areas, by several laws, including the Inheritance Act, the Administration of Estates Act and the Insurance Contracts Act.



For de facto partners no financial support to each other is provided and they have the right to inherit only in case of a specific will.


Links to applicable regulations



  • In Denmark same and opposite sex marriages are both allowed, based on a voluntary act between two single parties who are not under 18 years old, capable and not related. There are matrimonial property regimes as follows. 

The legal matrimonial property system is represented by the deferred community property. It means that the community does not enter into effect until the end of the marriage, by legal separation, divorce or death.  During marriage, each spouse can dispose of property, which he or she has bought or acquired. However, the other party, in case of a risk of loss or a misuse, can ask that the property be divided and claim for a compensation too. Special rules are defined for the matrimonial home and its furniture. They cannot be disposed without the consent of the other spouse. In absence of an agreement stipulating otherwise, the default system does not include non-transferable rights and personal rights, such as some forms of copyright and personal goodwill connected with business activities. Besides, in case of dissolution of marriage, the spouses maintain some forms of their own pension rights. Under the default regime, the creditor can only take proceedings against the property of the single debtor, as a general rule. However, both the spouses may be liable in case of debts incurred for the household or the needs of the children. In addition, a husband can be liable for the debts incurred by his wife, despite for her own needs. There is no opposite rule. 

The second legal property regime is represented by the separation of assets, which must be defined by the spouses through a specific agreement. It can partially or totally derogate the default regime. Spouses can enter into pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreements, which need to be submitted to the court for their registration. In particular, the agreement is published in official gazette (Statstidende). In case of a pre-nuptial agreement, it enters into effect only when the parties get married, while in case of a post-nuptial agreement the effects are settled from the day of the registration. Spouses can agree for several property systems through them, in alternative to the legal community property regime. Generally, the chosen different regime is the separation property system, which can be modulated by the spouses through the agreement. For instance, they can agree that they own property separately, even in case of divorce and death, or they can agree that they own separate property only in case of termination of the wedding. Spouses are free to create a different kind of property regime, in which the default regime rules could take place or not. For what concerns the separation of property system, the marriage agreement needs to be registered not only for its validation, but also to have legal effect towards creditors. Spouses are only liable for their single debts, but spouses are both liable in case of purchases bought for the household or the children’s needs, even in separate property.

  • In case of the termination of marriage under the default regime, the community of assets ceases and the net estate has to be divided.

The net estate includes some money held by the spouses, the value of the family home, investments, business assets etc. Personal assets, such as clothes, or personal rights, such as copyrights, compensation for injury, are not included. 

  • The division of the property could be made by a personal agreement or by the local court, even though the latter option is not frequent. 

If a spouse owns an asset, he or she can demands possession of it. However, where the value of the owned asset exceeds the value of the division shared, the spouse has to pay the difference to the other party. Courts can deny the equal division of the property where there was a short duration of the marriage (less than 5 years) and a spouse brought into marriage more assets than the other one. Under the alternative regime, the separation of the assets does not take place, because they are already personal. Only in special cases, the court can order the spouse to share the value of his own property with the other party, if the latter one could end up with a precarious financial situation after the divorce

  • In succession law, the spouse is an heir of first class.

He or she inherits alone in the absence of children or inherits with children and other decedent’s descendants. The surviving spouse is entitled to half of the estate while the children are entitled to the remaining half, distributed in equal shares. The surviving spouse will inherit the entire estate in the absence of descendants. The estate will pass to the relatives of the deceased, in case of absence of a surviving spouse.



  • Since Act No. 372 of 7 June 1989 recognized same-sex couples, registered union had almost the same effects of the marriage. In 2012, the Act No. 532 of 6 June has recognised the same-sex marriage. 



  • In Danish family and succession law, informal unions have different legal effects than marriages. For informal unions there is no financial support to each other provided and extramarital partners can inherit only based on the will. The informal unions have some rights in respect of social security, compensation, taxes and housing. 

Based on the national report prepared by Roberto Garetto, Stefano Zordan, Paolo Quacquarini, Manuela Giobbi,Giovanni Russo, Vincenzo Bonanno & Giovanna Di Benedetto