Chapter 614 of the Laws of Malta – The Cohabitation Act in further detail
Chapter 571 of the Laws of Malta was enacted in 2017 and provided for various forms of cohabitation in which unmarried individuals living together would have their relationship recognised at law. Throughout the years, legislators strived to bridge the gap between the rights offered to persons in a marriage or civil union and the rights offered to cohabitants. This was indeed what lead to the implementation of Act XXVII of 2020.
Chapter 571 was repealed and replaced with Chapter 614 which explained that today, any cohabitation relationship, to be recognized under Maltese law, has to be done by means of a contract, a Public deed, published in the acts of a Notary and duly registered in the Public Registry. The publication of such contract would allow the parties in the relationship to exercise the rights provided for within the law.
How can one be considered a Cohabitant?
For a person to be considered a cohabitant according to law, such person must be continually and habitually living together with another person and both persons must not be legally bound to other persons.
Community of Assets
As of 2020, if one chooses to enter into such a deed, there is the option, at the parties’ discretion, whether to establish the community of assets or to exclude it. If established, it will commence from the date of the publication of the deed and will include:
- The cohabitation home provided that it was purchased after the publication of the deed;
- Movables found in the cohabitation home provided that they were purchased after the publication of the deed.
The above-mentioned points are excluded from the community of assets if they were received by either Party by way of donation or succession.
By entering into this deed, the partners’ rights to the cohabitation home are being safeguarded. If the home is owned wholly or in part by one of the cohabitants alone, either partner may not do as they please and just assign their right over the home to a third party. In other words, a cohabitant may not assign his / her right over the cohabitation home without the consent of the other cohabitant, save with the authority of the competent court.
Rights and Duties
In addition, there are a number of rights and duties that the cohabitants will be afforded/ burdened with following the publication of the deed, notably, the right to a widow’s pension, maintenance in the case of dissolution of the cohabitation, supplementary allowance, unemployment benefits if the cohabitant is maintaining the other, the right to take medical decisions in relation to the other as well as children’s allowance. The Act also stipulates that both parents shall assume equal responsibilities such as maintenance as well as contribute equally towards the needs of the family.