Often, due to emotional or practical reasons, during their marriage spouses have to change the regime of their property relations. It is not a rare case when the reason for such a change is a spouse’s desire to acquire some property only for himself/herself, but it is impossible while the legal community property regime is into force.
What does “community property regime” stand for?
This is the “general baseline” – when at the time of marriage spouses have neither chosen a separate property regime, nor have concluded a marriage agreement. Under the community property regime, all real estate and rights in rem (right of use, construction rights, easements, etc.) acquired during marriage by joint contribution become common indivisible property of both spouses. Property is indivisible because neither spouse possesses his/her own ideal or real parts of the property. The lack of joint contribution (generally presumed by law) is difficult to prove, which is why spouses often explicitly regulate their property relations. Apart from a marriage contract, such regulation is also possible by switching to a separate property regime during marriage.
What are the steps to transform common property regime into a separate property regime?
Firstly, spouses should altogether sign a joint declaration with notarized signatures for selection of separate property regime:
- The declaration should be signed by both spouses before a notary/a Bulgarian consul abroad;
- The place of signing of such declaration is not significant for its validity – it can be signed anywhere in the state or abroad.
Amendment to the act of civil marriage
- The act itself is kept at the municipality where the spouses have married.
- On the grounds of the declaration signed a sample application for entry of the amendment to their property regime;
- The application may be submitted by one of the spouses – they are not obliged to act jointly upon submission;
- An identity card of the applicant should be presented;
- Among the different municipalities in Bulgaria it takes between 1 to 7 business days for the administration to enforce the amendment;
- The state fee varies, but usually it does not exceed BGN 10.
Amendment with the Register of Property Relations between Spouses (the “Register”)
- The respective municipality ex officio notifies the Register about the change in the property regime;
- The new regime is entered with the Register without further request.
Enforceability of the change in time
After completion of the procedural steps above, the separate property regime becomes enforceable, but only for the future relations. Thus, all real estate and property rights acquired before entry of the amendment with the Register remain a common property of both spouses. Thereof, the legal community property regime applies to any property acquired prior to the change. With regard to newly acquired property:
- if acquired only by one of the spouses – remains his/her personal property;
- if the spouses jointly acquire property, it becomes a normal co-ownership – if not agreed otherwise, each spouse has an equal share of the common property.