Seimas Approves the Proposal on “Cohabitation Agreements” as Alternative to Partnership Law

On 30th May, 2017 the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania voted for the proposal (XIIIP-750) to amend the Civil Code of the Republic of Lithuania to regulate cohabitation by way of cohabitation agreement. The authors of the amendment to the Civil Code propose a term “agreement for cohabitation” that would allow two or more cohabitants to realize certain property rights without an intention to create family relations. With 46 in favor, 6 opposing and 17 abstentions, the draft proposal has been approved for further consideration in the Lithuanian Parliament.

The amendment in question has been registered as a response to the announcement on 23rd May, 2017 by the MPs representing the Liberal Movement Party about the registered proposal to amend the Civil Code, aiming to recognize the legal status of both different-sex and same-sex couples.

In the explanatory note of the proposal the MPs representing the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union Political Group and the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrat Political Group elaborate that “agreement for joint cohabitation” would complement existing legislation on “agreement on joint activities (cohabitation)”, which entails that “two or more persons (cohabitants), co-operating their property, work or knowledge, undertake to act jointly for a certain goal or certain activities which do not contravene the law”. The proposal to include cohabitation explicitly stipulates that two or more cohabitants entering agreement do not intend to create family relations. The proposed legislation could also entail the hospital visitation rights and right to inheritance of late cohabitant’s property if such cohabitation agreement would be certified by the notary. Although it remains unclear whether any other than property rights deriving from such an agreement would in fact be in line with existing Lithuanian legislation.

As stipulated by existing legal norms, the joint activities (cohabitation) agreements can be concluded by any two or more parties. Ramūnas Karbauskis, the leader of the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union Political Group stressed that the cohabitation legislation should not broaden the definition of family and would only address property rights of individuals living together.

The National LGBT rights Organization LGL would like to emphasize that the proposal by the MPs representing the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union Political Group denies the family member status to the persons already living together with an intention to create a family.

A similar position has been voiced by MP Aušrinė Armonaitė, the representative of the Liberal Movement Party and one of the authors of the gender-neutral civil partnership draft proposal: “The proposal put forward by the Farmers and Greens is “a spit in the face” to those couples who need partnership legislation, regardless whether those couples are of same sex or of different sex. What we are proposing to legislate are family relations deriving from partnership, not a joint loan from the bank”.