Recent Amendments with regards to divorce laws in Malta

by , on Oct 22, 2021 05:52:35 AM

By virtue of Article 66A of the Civil Code, the concept of divorce was introduced within Maltese legislation. By means of Act XXV of 2021, amendments to divorce proceedings within Malta were instigated and approved by Parliament. The primary goals of this bill is to make divorce proceedings within Malta more efficient, impartial, and in the best interests of all parties engaged within the dissolution of marriage.

Prior to the Act’s amendments, a couple could only seek divorce if their marriage had irretrievably dissolved, and they had been married for a period of at least four years. The four-year limit has been eliminated entirely by the Act modifying Article 40 of the Civil Code. As a result, a party may file for personal separation at any time after a celebration of marriage has taken place.

Nevertheless, in order to issue the divorce, the court must be satisfied that:

  • There is no prospective chance of the two parties reconciling, and
  • As per their individual situations, the spouses and all of their children are receiving enough support.

Except for the implications of divorce deriving from the law, a divorce proclaimed between spouses who were separated by contract or by a court judgment will not modify what was ordered or agreed to between them.

The second notable amendment concerns sub-paragraphs (a) and (b) of Article 66B of the Civil Code, which deal with the circumstances that must be met in order to acquire a divorce demand. The following elements must be completed in order for a divorce to be granted by the Maltese Courts.

Divorce when the spouses are not legally separated :

Prior to divorce, the spouses are not required to be legally separated from each other through a contract or a judgement.

  • When both spouses file a joint application – the spouses must have lived apart for a period, or periods, totaling at least 6 months out of the previous year on the date the divorce proceedings begin.
  • When one spouse files a divorce petition against the other – the spouses must have lived apart for at least one year out of the previous two years on the date the divorce petition is filed.

Furthermore, if the spouses are not separated by a contract or a court order, they must undergo mediation before the divorce may be finalised.

The parties involved in such mediation sessions must try to agree on the following:

i. The children’s case and custody,

ii. The two parties’ access to the children,

iii. The spouses, or one of them’s, and each child’s maintenance,

iv. Residence in the marital residence,

v. The divide of the acquesting community,

If the couple is already separated due to a court order, or a separation agreement, at the time the divorce processes begin, the parties may file for divorce right away.

Jurisdiction of the Maltese Courts :

Only if one of the following conditions is met will the Family Court have jurisdiction to consider and decide a divorce petition:

  • At least one of the spouses resided within Malta at the time the divorce petition is filed.
  • At least one of the spouses was habitually resident within Malta for at least a year prior to the filing of the divorce petition.

Remarriage :

Each of the parties will be able to remarry once the Court awards the spouse divorce.

Nevertheless, it is worth noting that if one of the parties is receiving maintenance from the other and then remarries, that party loses his, or her, right to collect maintenance from the former spouse.

Author: Maila Cimino