The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has long recognized that the concept of family is not limited to relationships based on marriage but may encompass other de facto family ties. This evolution of case law reflects developments in society and the ECHR judgment given on 21 July 2015, Oliari and Others v. Italy, which imposed the positive obligation on States that do not permit homosexual marriage, to offer a specific legal framework to recognize and protect the union of homosexual couples.
It is in this context that the draft law, Bill N°. 974 was passed by the Monaco Government and the National Council earlier this month on 5 December 2019. From now on, individuals who have chosen to share their life in common, outside of marriage, can enter a life in common agreement (contract de vie commune) governing their respective rights and duties.
The draft law has two components leading to the creation of two distinct contracts:
1. First, those individuals living together in a relationship, which is the subject of a shared life agreement (contrat de vie commune), applicable irrespective of sexual orientation;
2. Second, the members of the same family who cohabit together, to which a cohabitation agreement (contrat de cohabitation) will apply.
Bill N°. 974 is a continuation of the provisions of the earlier Bill N°. 207, which was applicable to couples living together and cohabiting family members.
A reform modifying the rights and obligations of unmarried couples.
As part of the Principality’s concern for the development of a contemporary society, it has reformed the rights and obligations of unmarried partners and recognizes civil union in all its forms, both heterosexual and homosexual. It is intended that the family cohabitation agreement will be a continuation of Monegasque family law and a legal instrument to protect the rights of couples who cohabit granting them the:
- Possibility to organise the patrimonial aspects of their conjugal life;
- Rights of succession following the death of partner;
- Payment of sickness insurance for the benefit of the partner;
- Possibility for the partner to be the holder or beneficiary of a housing contract/capitalization that allows them to meet the high cost of living and accommodation in Monaco.
The essential differences with marriage
The new status of a couple subject to the terms of a shared life agreement does not compete with, but is complementary to, marriage and which will remain the only model of union recognised by law to build and organise a family.
Taxation and transfer duties
The Civil Union agreements will allow for significantly reduced rates of taxation of lifetime transfers, or transfers on death (generally 4% instead of 16%, but with some anti-abuse provisions).
Rosemont will provide further updates on the publication of the Law.
Following the application of this new legislation Monaco residents should reconsider their estate planning to decide whether any action is required to best meet their objectives. Existing wills should be reviewed. By adapting its legislation to take account of the changing family structure this will also increase the attractivity of Monaco as a place of residence.
Rosemont Consulting can assist you with this review, and with the implementation of any changes required. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.