Welcome to our comprehensive guide on the cohabitation law in Malta, aimed at providing a detailed overview of the rights and legal protections available to cohabiting couples.
With the absence of specific legislation governing cohabitation, many couples in Malta have been left without legal rights and recognition.
However, the cohabitation act in Malta seeks to rectify this situation, ensuring that cohabitants, regardless of their gender, are afforded legal rights and obligations.
In this article, we delve into the key aspects of the cohabitation law, highlighting its significance and implications for couples in Malta.
Table of Contents
- 📗 Frequently Asked Questions About Cohabitation Law in Malta
- 📗 Understanding Cohabitation in Malta
- 📗 The Contract of Cohabitation
- 📗 Amendment and Modification of the Contract
- 📗 Rights and Protections Afforded by the Cohabitation Law
- 📗 Termination of the Contract of Cohabitation
- 📗 Unilateral Declaration of Cohabitation
- 📗 Conclusion
- 📗 Related Articles
📗 Frequently Asked Questions About Cohabitation Law in Malta
Cohabitation is a term used to describe the living arrangement of two individuals who are not married but have decided to live together in a committed relationship. This type of relationship has become increasingly common in Malta, especially among younger generations.
The legal definition of cohabitation in Malta refers to the situation where two unmarried individuals live together and share their lives as a couple. Cohabiting couples are not legally married, but they may choose to register their relationship under the Cohabitation Act.
One of the most important rights of cohabiting couples is the right to live together without interference from others. This means that landlords cannot discriminate against unmarried couples when renting property and employers cannot discriminate against them based on their relationship status.
If you have been living together for an extended period and have shared assets or children, it’s essential to seek legal advice on how best to dissolve your partnership. You may need to consider property rights, child custody arrangements and financial obligations.
📗 Understanding Cohabitation in Malta
Cohabitation, an integral part of Maltese culture, has long been recognized as a legitimate form of partnership.
However, until recently, the absence of dedicated legislation has hindered the legal protection and recognition of cohabiting couples.
The cohabitation act distinguishes between two types of cohabitation: cohabitation and de facto cohabitation.
The former refers to couples who choose to regulate their relationship under the cohabitation act, while the latter pertains to couples who opt for an informal arrangement without legal obligations.
📗 The Contract of Cohabitation
For couples who wish to regulate their relationship under the cohabitation act, the process involves drawing up a public deed before a Notary Public and adhering to the provisions outlined in the Bill.
The Notary Public assumes the responsibility of explaining the effects and obligations arising from the contract, which are then documented within the agreement itself.
The public deed must address various important matters, including:
📘 Primary Ordinary Residence and Property Rights
The parties involved in the cohabitation must define their primary ordinary residence and establish the respective legal titles associated with the property.
Additionally, the public deed should outline the agreements pertaining to the transfer of real rights and the rights of the parties in relation to the tenement in the event of a dissolution of the cohabitation.
📘 Maintenance Obligations
In cases where one party becomes financially dependent on the other, the public deed should include provisions regarding the maintenance obligations and support that may arise during the cohabitation and in the event of its dissolution.
📘 Division of Assets and Liabilities
The contract of cohabitation must address the division of assets and liabilities that may occur in the event of the cohabitation’s termination.
Establishing a fair and equitable framework for the distribution of shared property and debts is crucial for ensuring clarity and avoiding potential conflicts.
📘 Children’s Rights and Custody
Regarding children born or involved in the cohabitation, the public deed should address their rights, particularly with regard to their residence in the primary ordinary residence of the cohabitants and the care and custody arrangements in case of a dissolution of the cohabitation.
📗 Amendment and Modification of the Contract
To accommodate changes and updates, the cohabitation act allows for amendments to the public deed through a corrective act performed before a notary public.
Such amendments, when related to assets, the primary residence, assets held in common, or clauses concerning children born after the initial registration, do not require authorization from the competent court.
However, if either party believes that the amendments prejudice their rights, they may request a court hearing to address their concerns.
📗 Rights and Protections Afforded by the Cohabitation Law
The cohabitation act bestows several rights and protections upon couples who register their cohabitation under the provisions of the Bill.
These rights, similar to those enjoyed by married or civil union couples, include:
- Tenancy Rights: A cohabitant is considered a tenant for all legal purposes, irrespective of the date of the lease, whether residential or commercial. This designation grants them certain rights and protections in relation to leases and lease renewals.
- Family Membership: Cohabitants registered under the cohabitation law are recognized as members of the family, entitling them to specific rights concerning the renewal of a lease agreement.
- Employment Rights: Cohabitants enjoy rights similar to those of married individuals or those in civil unions with regards to work-related matters, including leave entitlements and other employment benefits.
- Designated Next of Kin: Under the cohabitation law, a cohabitant is regarded as the closest person to the registered cohabitant. This designation carries certain legal implications, especially in matters involving medical decisions and inheritance.
- Children’s Allowance: Cohabitants who have children are eligible to receive children’s allowance in accordance with the relevant legislation outlined in Articles 76A, 80-82 of Chapter 318 of the Laws of Malta.
📗 Termination of the Contract of Cohabitation
The contract of cohabitation comes to an end under specific circumstances as prescribed by the cohabitation law.
These circumstances include:
- Death of a Cohabitant: The contract of cohabitation automatically terminates upon the death of one of the cohabitants.
- Mutual Agreement: If both parties agree to terminate the contract of cohabitation, they can do so by executing a public deed registered by a public notary.
- Individual Termination: In cases where the cohabitants decide to terminate their cohabitation and one of the parties files an application in court, the court may declare the contract of cohabitation null and void, along with any subsequent rights and obligations. This termination is then recorded and published at the Public Registry.
📗 Unilateral Declaration of Cohabitation
The cohabitation law also provides an option for one party to unilaterally declare the cohabitation in situations where the other party is unwilling to register the cohabitation.
This provision allows the declaring party to secure basic legal rights under the law.
Notable rights granted through this unilateral declaration include the right to certain movable assets situated in the primary ordinary residence of the cohabitants and the right to reside in the primary ordinary residence for a reasonable period in case of a cohabitation dissolution, as specified in the cohabitation law.
This option under the cohabitation law represents one of its most favorable aspects, as it aims to protect the rights of the party who may be in a vulnerable position within the relationship.
Once the unilateral declaration is filed, the other proposed cohabitant is notified, and unless opposed, the declaration becomes binding, including all subsequent rights and obligations, within two months from the registration.
The cohabitation law in Malta seeks to address the legal vacuum surrounding cohabiting couples by granting them rights, obligations, and legal protections.
Through the contract of cohabitation, couples can formalize their relationship and secure their rights regarding property, maintenance, children, and more.
By understanding the intricacies of the cohabitation law, individuals can make informed decisions and ensure that their relationships are legally recognized and protected.
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Last Updated on 24 May, 2023