What does the law say?
The forms of cohabitation of rainbow families are diverse. A rainbow family is a family in which at least one parent is lesbian, gay, bisexual or pansexual, trans* or inter*. For homosexual couples, until 2017, legal protection of their family model could only be achieved through a registered civil partnership. Since 1.10.2017, the possibility of "marriage for all" exists. What this means for same-sex and queer couples, read this article.
Marriage for all has been in place since October 2017. This makes it possible for two people - regardless of gender - to enter into marriage with each other.
To enter into a marriage, the following conditions must be met:
The same-sex marriage is almost equal to the marriage of heterosexual couples when it comes to tax, family and custody aspects. Also, same-sex married couples can jointly (rather than consecutively) adopt other people's children. However, there are still differences when it comes to questions of adoption and parentage law:
The Civil Partnership Act (LPartG) has made it possible for same-sex couples to enter into a registered civil partnership since 2001 in order to legally secure their relationship. All legal issues are regulated in the LPartG.
Since the introduction of "marriage for all" on Oct. 1, 2017, however, it is no longer possible to enter into a registered civil partnership. It has been abolished. You can (but do not have to) convert an existing registered civil partnership into a marriage.
Most of the regulations of the Civil Partnership Act have been adapted over time to the statutory marriage law. With the name right for example, the regulations to the family maintenance or the maintenance payments with separating as well as the parents maintenance apply the same rules. The matrimonial property regime of community of gains also applies to both partners, unless something else has been expressly agreed. This applies to registered civil partnerships just as it does to married couples. Also with the pension equalization there are no differences to married couples.
Differences exist, however, if you have the desire to jointly adopt a child. In a civil partnership you can adopt a child not simultaneously, but only in the form of a successive adoption. Detailed information on the forms of adoption can be found here on the Familienportal.NRW.
Whoever entered into a registered civil partnership before 2017 can continue it or convert it into a marriage. The marriage takes place at the registry office. In addition to the usual documents, the civil partnership certificate must be presented.
You have questions about same-sex marriage or civil partnership, would like to get advice or want support in family planning issues? You can find points of contact near you in North Rhine-Westphalia on the website of the LAG Regenbogenfamilien NRW.
A compilation of counseling centers and self-help groups that offer support and information for rainbow families can also be found on the website of the Fachstelle Regenbogenfamilien NRW.