The new cohabitation bill

Cohabiting parties live like spouses, however their relationship is not formalized. Namely cohabiting people share a household, are emotionally attached and may raise children together. However their relationship has not been formalized by marriage.

The Cohabitation in Malta Bill, launched on the 28th of August 2012 by Justice Minister Dr Chris Said, provides for Civil Cohabiting Partnerships which may be registered between a man and a woman or two people of the same gender, to regulate their relationship. In most of Europe cohabitation is regulated by law, the law is divided into two. The first applies to couples – a man and a woman who have been living together for some time. It provides legal safeguards for the consequences of such a relationship such as maintenance. Such couples would have had to be living together for five years, or two years if they have children. The law provides, among other things, for action which may be taken when a cohabitation relationship breaks down. For a more detailed legal advice on cohabitation in Malta for mixed or gay couples please visit the website of Sultana legal to schedule an appointment in order the have personalised advice in accordance to your case.

In the second part, the law also provides that a couple may register their partnership before a notary. In that case the partnership would start from the date of that Civil Cohabitation Partnership. In such a contract the partners would list their obligations and responsibilities to each other. Such arrangements are not recognised as families. Many countries apply the provisions of cohabitation to gay couples too.

Unless the law regularises cohabiting persons one must take into account the following considerations:
1) Commitment: a party is free to abandon the other party s/he is cohabiting with.
2) Maintenance: in cohabitation no maintenance will be granted.
3) Income Tax: persons who are married will pay less income tax than persons who are cohabiting.
4) Inheritance: the cohabitee is entitled to nothing.
5) Inheritance (home): A cohabitee is not entitled to continue living in home they shared
6) Access in hospital: Cohabitees may not be admitted in certain cases.

In the proposed law there are two types of cohabitation – de facto and de jure. In the latter, couples decide to regulate their relationship by means of a public contract. Although this has always been possible, such contracts are more significant. While De facto cohabitation is when there is no contract between the couple or one part refuses to have a contract signed. The law will therefore recognise such relationships and introduces rights and obligations.

So far this is just a proposed bill and parliament has to agree on the final draft during their deliberations. Of course we will keep you informed through this website of the outcome of the law which regulates cohabitation in Malta.