Divorce is a relatively recent concept in Maltese law, governed by Article 66A et seq of the Civil Code.
Divorce in Malta may be demanded by means of a court application either submitted jointly by the parties or else by one party against the other.
Recent amendments to divorce proceedings in Malta
As of recently, Act XXV of 2021 was tabled and approved by parliament. The main aim of this Bill is to enable divorce proceedings in Malta to be carried out in a more expedient and fair manner and in the best interest of all parties involved in the dissolution of marriage.
For a divorce to be granted by the Maltese Courts, it is highly important that the following conditions are met (As recently amended by virtue of Bill 182);
Divorce when the spouses are not legally separated
It shall not be required that, prior to divorce, the spouses would be separated from each other by means of a contract or of a judgement.
- When an application is made jointly by both spouses: on the date of commencement of the divorce proceedings, the spouses shall have lived apart for a period or periods that amount to, at least 6 months out of the preceding year.
- When the demand is made by one of the spouses against the other spouse: on the date of commencement of the divorce proceedings, the spouses shall have lived apart for a period of, or periods that amount to, at least one year out of the preceding two years.
Moreover, where the spouses are not separated by means of a contract or a court judgement, the spouses must attend mediation before proceedings with the divorce.
In such mediation proceedings, the parties must attempt to agree on the following;
- The care and the custody of the children;
- The access of the two parties to the children;
- The maintenance of the spouses or of one of them and of each child;
- Residence in the matrimonial home;
- The division of the community of acquests.
If the couple is already separated by means of a court judgement or separation agreement on the date of commencement of the divorce proceedings, the parties may apply for divorce immediately.
However, for the divorce to be granted, the court must also be satisfied that:
- There is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation between the parties.
- The spouses and all of their children are receiving adequate maintenance, where this is due, according to their particular circumstances.
Prior to these recent amendments, a four-year period of separation was required before the parties can apply for divorce. Now, this requirement has been removed.
A divorce pronounced between spouses who were separated by means of a contract or by a court judgement shall not bring about any change in what was ordered or agreed to between them, except for the effects of divorce resulting from the law.
Jurisdiction of the Maltese Courts
The Family Court shall have jurisdiction to hear and determine a demand for divorce only if one of the following requirements is satisfied:
- At least one of the spouses was domiciled in Malta on the date of the filing of the demand for divorce.
- At least one of the spouses was ordinarily resident in Malta for a period of one year immediately preceding the filing of the demand for divorce.
After the Court grants the spouse Divorce, each of the parties will be free to remarry.
However, it is important to note that if one of the parties would be receiving maintenance from the other party, and subsequently remarries, the same party shall forfeit the right to receive maintenance from the previous spouse.
Family Law matters at SMM Advocates
At SMM Advocates we can assist with sensitive family issues such as separation, divorce, as well as general family law advice. We are available for both face-to-face or online consultations, get in touch by filling in our contact form or call +356 2123 7167 for immediate assistance.