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Three distinctive forms of cohabitation arrangement to be introduced in Malta

A Cohabitation Bill, which has passed through the Maltese Parliament and is awaiting the President's signature, provides for three distinctive forms of cohabitation arrangement: de fact cohabitation, contractual cohabitation, and unilaterally-declared cohabitation.

Under Article 3 of the Bill after a couple have lived together for two years a de facto cohabitation will give rise to limited mutual legal rights and obligations between them – for example, the rights to take decisions relating to the medical care of the other cohabitant and for each to be recognised for legal purposes as the next-of-kin of the other.

Under Articles 4-19 a couple who are already cohabiting may choose to regulate their cohabitation by entering into a contract, registered by a notary.  The contract, which would be a public deed, would determine issues such as ownership of the family home, division of assets and liabilities and payment of maintenance in the event of separation.

Articles 20-29, relating to cohabitation by universal declaration, would only be applicable for five years from the date of commencement of the statute. The law will allow one cohabitant to declare that he or she and their partner are cohabiting by unilaterally sending a 'judicial letter' to the other. That other person may dispute that they are cohabiting. This provision is intended to allow those currently in a vulnerable state of affairs to obtain some legal protection.

For an explanation of the proposed law, see an article in Times of Malta. For the Bill itself, click here.