Lithuanian family and sucession law recognise one model of couple's relationship: 

  • MARRIAGE between persons of opposite sex



Lithuania does not regulate any other form of family life apart from marriage between opposite-sex couple. 


Links to applicable regulations



  • Article 38 of the Constitution of Lithuania states that: the family shall be the basis of society and the State. Family, motherhood, fatherhood, and childhood shall be under the protection and care of the State. Marriage shall be concluded upon the free mutual consent of man and woman. The Constitutional Court of Lithuania has stated that the constitutional concept of family may not be derived solely from the institution of marriage, consolidated in Arti. 38(6) of the Constitution, but that families may be founded on other than marriage. The Constitutional Court noted that the constitutional concept of the family is neutral in terms of gender. Pursuant to Art. 38(1) and (2) of the Constitution in conjunction with the principle of the equality and prohibition of discrimination in Art. 29 of the Constitution, protecttion is aforded to all families understood as permanent or long-lasting relationships between family members, characterised by reciprocal understanding and responsibility, emotional affection, help and similar bonds, as well as on the voluntary determination to take on certain rights and duties. Despite that, the marriage between a man and a woman remains the only model of couple's relationship that is regulated by statutory law in Lithuania. Lithuania still has no statutory law to regulate any other model of couple's relationship.

  • The conclusion of the marriage creates important property and non-property personal rights of spouses.

Regarding property rights and obligations of the spouses, the Civil Code provides that the spouses may choose a statutory or a contractual legal regime of their property. Where the spouses have not made a marriage contract (prenuptial or postnuptial agreement), their property by default shall be subject to the statutory regime. The statutory regime of the spouses’ property means that any property (except the list of personal property of the spouse provided in Art. 3.89 of the Civil Code) acquired by the spouses after the commencement of their marriage shall be their joint community property. There are no shares of the spouses in their joint community property, until the moment the joint community property is divided. The law also provides a presumption that all property shall be presumed to be joint community property of the spouses unless it is established that it is the personal property of one of them. The spouse claiming, on the ground of Art. 3.89 of the Civil Code, that some property is his/her personal property has the burden of proof. Joint community property shall be used, managed and disposed of by the mutual agreement of the spouses. When making transactions a spouse shall be presumed to have the consent of the other spouse except in cases where entering into a transaction by operation of the law requires the written consent of the other spouse. The law requires the written consent of both spouses for the transactions related to the disposal or encumbrance of a jointly co-owned immovable or the rights to it, also transactions on the alienation of a jointly co-owned enterprise or securities or the encumbrance of the rights to them. The spouses also have joint civil liability. The law states that the following obligations shall be discharged from the joint community property of spouses: obligations related to the encumbrances of property acquired in co-ownership that existed at the time of acquisition or were created later; obligations related to the costs of managing joint community property; obligations related to the maintenance of the household; obligations related to legal expenses where the action is related to joint community property or the interests of the family; obligations arising from transactions made by one of the spouses with the consent of the other spouse; joint and several obligations of the spouses. 

  • The property of spouses constitutes their joint community property until their separation as to property or until the extinguishment of the joint community property rights in some other way (death of one of the spouses, the nullity of the marriage, divorce, division of the community property without termination of the marriage, the change of the legal regime of property in accordance with the mutual agreement of the spouses).

When concluding a marriage contract, spouses shall have a right to determine their matrimonial regime as they see fit. A marriage contract means an agreement of the spouses defining their property rights and duties during the marriage as well as for the case of divorce or separation. A marriage contract may be made before the registration of the marriage (pre-nuptial contract) or at any time after the registration of the marriage (post-nuptial contract). A marriage contract must be entered into before the notary public. A marriage contract as well as its subsequent amendments must be registered in the register of marriage contracts. A marriage contract may contain the stipulation of rights and duties related to the management of property, mutual maintenance, participation in the provision for family needs and expenses as well as the procedure for partitioning property in case of divorce and other matters related to the spouse’s mutual relations in property. Spouses shall have a right to stipulate in the marriage contract that: (1) property acquired both before and during the marriage shall be the individual property of each spouse; (2) individual property acquired by a spouse before the marriage shall become joint community property after the registration of the marriage; (3) property acquired during the marriage shall be joint community property. In their marriage contract the spouses may define a matrimonial legal regime both in respect of their existing and future property. In their marriage contract the spouses may stipulate that one of the matrimonial legal regimes referred above shall be applied to their entire property or only to its certain part or to specified chattels. The rights and duties of the spouses provided for in their marriage contract may be limited in time, or the emergence or termination of rights and duties may be related to the fulfilment or omission of a certain condition stipulated in the marriage contract. The law also provides the grounds for conditions stipulated in a marriage contract to be null and void.


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NOTE 1: Chapter XV of the Third Book of the Lithuanian Civil Code contains provisions on cohabitation of non-married persons. Although the Civil Code entered into force in 2001, the abovementioned Chapter is an exception. The law on the entry into force of the Civil Code provided that Chapter XV of the Third Book on cohabitation of non-married persons will enter into force only after a separate law on the procedure of the registration of partnerships is passed. After more than 17 years, the law on the procedure of the registration of partnerships still has not been enacted. Regarding the content of the regulation of Chapter XV of the Third Book, it provides for some limited legal rights and obligations for the unmarried couple. The provisions of this Chapter shall regulate the relations regarding property of a man and a woman who, after registering their partnership in the procedure laid down by the law, have been cohabiting at least for a year with the aim of creating family relations without having registered their union as a marriage (cohabitees). The provisions of this Chapter shall regulate the legal regime of the assets referred to in this Chapter provided the assets have been acquired and used jointly by the cohabitees. 

NOTE 2: Residual de facto cohabiting partnerships exist; however, they are still not regulated by the statutory law. Some limited legal consequences of unregistered cohabiting partnerships have been developed by the application of the law in the court cases. The Lithuanian Supreme Court has developed the case law related with the defense of limited property rights and obligations, in case of de facto cohabiting couple. The disputes regarding the property of the de facto cohabiting couple in the case law are solved by application of the general Civil Code rules on joint venture (partnership) agreement (i.e. law of contracts and obligations) and/or general rules on common shared property (i.e. law on ownership). However, in each individual case the person has a burden of proof to provide evidences the existence of the substantial facts: living together, goal to acquire the property into the common property, participation in the acquisition of the property, etc. 

Prepared by Mindaugas Vaičiūnas