Legal Arrangements for Couples in Malta

Why is a Cohabitation Agreement necessary

. Nicole Borg co-authored with Dr Luana Cuschieri | 13 Nov 2023

Legal Arrangements for Couples in Malta img

Legal arrangements for couples in a Nutshell

Maltese law caters for three types of legal arrangements for couples who want to formalize their relationship, these being marriage, civil union and cohabitation.

Key Legal Issues

  • Formalizing a cohabitation relationship in Malta
  • Implications of Cohabitation under Maltese laws

Marriage and Civil Union

Civil Union is identical to Marriage. Civil Union law was enacted in 2014 in order to provide for same-sex couples who want to formalize their relationship. 

Marriage and Civil Union bring couples far closer together than cohabitation. After contracting marriage, couples often establish the community of acquests, spouses are obliged to maintain each other according to their means, they owe each other fidelity and by default bequeath everything to each other and their children upon their death. Marriage and Civil Unions provide for a change in surnames.

" Marriage and Civil Union bring couples far closer together than cohabitation. "

Cohabitation Law Malta

The Cohabitation Act (Chapter 614 of the Laws of Malta) (hereinafter referred to as the ‘’Act’’) introduced the notion of cohabitation to Maltese law and set all necessary considerations for its regularization through the implementation of Council regulation (EU) 2016/1104. Cohabitation is geared towards protecting a vulnerable person who is cohabiting with another.  Cohabitees who wish to protect their interests further may opt to specify additional arrangements and can enter into a public deed that spells out their rights and obligations upon separation. Therefore, while marriage and civil union obliges a party to commit most aspects of his or her personal life to the other spouse, cohabitation, on the other hand, is there to ensure that those who cohabit are not seriously prejudiced if the relationship fails. 

Parties to a cohabitation agreement must first declare whether they had already contracted any previous public deed of cohabitation together which was dissolved, and/or whether they are under the legal incapacity of getting into such agreement for any reason as specified in the Act. 

Benefits of a Cohabitation Agreement

Cohabitees become automatically entitled to certain rights as specified in the Act. They are generally bound to have equal rights and shall assume equal responsibilities during their cohabitation and shall have the duty to support each other morally and materially. They are similarly bound, each in proportion to their means and their ability to work, whether inside or outside the cohabitation home, as the interests of the family require, to maintain each other and to contribute towards the needs of the family. Cohabitees may also choose to establish a community of assets, limited to the cohabitation home and the assets included therein, and subject to their choice and preferences. 

Cohabitees further have the same rights as married couples in terms of rights related to labour and family, including for example, leave and other rights as defined in codes and working practices. They have the automatic right to take all decisions relating to the medical care of one another and have the same hospital visitation rights as married couples.  Cohabitees also have the right to benefit from certain succession rights, as well as Social Security benefits, such as the widow’s pension, unemployment benefits and supplementary allowances. 

A cohabitation agreement does not create the same rights and obligations created by marriage, but it serves to formalize and regulate the relationship under law, and entitle the cohabitees to certain benefits which would not have been applicable, had the parties not registered their relationship. 

What this means for you

If you are currently cohabiting with your partner, or planning to do so, you might need to formalize your relationship by means of a cohabitation agreement in order to safeguard your rights and ensure a form of structure to your relationship.

How we can help

Our team of Legal Professionals can assist you in drafting a Cohabitation Agreement tailored for your specific needs and circumstances.

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Key Contacts

Dr Priscilla Mifsud Parker

Senior Partner, Corporate, Tax & Immigration

+356 22056122