Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Times: Cohabitation Bill in final stages

Monday, August 1, 2011, by Matthew Xuereb, Kurt Sansone

A Bill on cohabitation is expected to be presented to Parliament right after the summer recess, The Times has learnt.

A law regulating cohabitation was something the Nationalist Party has promised since 1998, when it was returned to government after Labour’s 22-month stint.

A spokesman for the Justice Ministry confirmed that the government was finalising the Bill, which would be submitted to Parliament in October, when it reconvenes after the summer recess.

The spokesman would not give details of the proposals but said it would be published in the Government Gazette after its first reading in the House.

In May, in the run-up to the divorce referendum, Nationalist MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando had called on his own government to make known its legislative proposals on the matter. His main bone of contention had been that the new law would not cover separated couples who lived with their new partners.

The government had refused to publish the contents of the Bill before the divorce referendum. It insisted it did not want to derail the divorce debate. Before the referendum, Justice Minister Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici had told Parliament that the framework of the government’s proposed legislation on cohabitation had already been laid down.

Dr Mifsud Bonnici had said the government was evaluating the experiences of all EU member states that had tried to regulate cohabitation. Regulating cohabiting couples, he said, was a very complex issue because there were many variants of cohabitation.

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