Divorce was introduced in Malta in October 2011, until then only legal separation being acknowledged by the Civil Code. Marriage dissolution can be requested by both spouses or by one of them, but the court will grant a divorce if the following conditions are met:
- when beginning the divorce procedures, the couple has lived separated for a period of at least four years or at least four years have passed from the legal separation;
- if there is no possibility for the reconcilement, the court will consent to a divorce;
- if the spouse and children will benefit from support according to article 66B in the Civil Code;
- at least one of the two spouses had residence in Malta when filing the divorce application.
With a vast experience in various areas of the Civil Law, our divorce lawyers in Malta can help those who need to end their marriages through one of the legal procedures available.
The main ways of ending a marriage in Malta
If until 2011, only separation was recognized by the Maltese law, once the Civil Code was amended other ways of ending the marriage were acknowledged. Nowadays, a marriage can also be ended through annulment and divorce which can be amicable or not. Compared to other European countries, the divorce procedure in Malta can only be completed in court.
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Separation under the Maltese legislation
Even if separation is not the first phase of a divorce under the new legislation, this procedure is still recognized by the Maltese courts and can represent a ground for divorce in Malta. Most of the times, people do not know the fact that separation does not mean the automatic end of a marriage.
Separation only means the decision of one or both parties to live separately. It is also important to know that at the moment, separation is not a mandatory condition to start the divorce proceedings.
Just like divorce, separation can be requested in court on the same grounds, however, this will not mean that any of the other spouses obtain the right to remarry during this procedure.
The conditions for obtaining a divorce in Malta
There are several conditions to be met when Maltese citizens or residents want to get divorced. The procedure can be started by both parties, or only by one party by filing a petition with a Family Court in Malta. Moreover, when the proceedings start one of the following requirements apply:
- the spouses must have lived separately for at least 4 years in a period of 5 years after the petition is filed;
- the spouses must have been legally separated for 4 years at the time the petition is filed;
- there must be no prospect of reconciliation between the parties;
- equitable maintenance must be ensured for the children of the couple and/or the spouse who can prove has been affected.
The following grounds can be considered for legal separation prior to filing for divorce in Malta:
- adultery and domestic violence;
- cruelty and bad treatment applied to the other spouse or children;
- leaving the family home;
- marriage breakdown.
Our divorce lawyers in Malta can provide the needed assistance in preparing the documents required to obtain separation.
Our divorce attorneys in Malta can offer more information on the legal meaning of separation.
Marriage annulment in Malta
Another way of ending a marriage is an annulment. Compared to the divorce, the annulment of a marriage is more direct and implies the court issuing an order under which the marriage is considered to have never taken place, or in other words, the marriage is void.
Marriage annulment is often requested in Malta because of the many grounds which can be invoked.
The following reasons can be invoked for marriage annulment in Malta:
- the validity of the marriage can be contested for lack of respect to the law;
- if one of the parties has consented to the marriage by coercion;
- if the marriage was concluded fraudulently;
- if the marriage was completed by lack of judgement of one of the parties;
- if the marriage has not been consumed.
Our divorce lawyers in Malta can explain the legal reasons under which marriage annulment can be obtained. We can advise both national and foreign citizens seeking to obtain divorces in Malta.
Divorce as a way of ending a marriage in Malta
Once the new legislation was enabled, divorce has started becoming a more popular way of ending a marriage in Malta. The relatively easy procedures which can be completed amicably and the few documents which must be presented before the judge make divorce easy to obtain.
Compared to annulment, the divorce recognized by a Maltese court means the end of a marriage which had certain consequences which are found in the divorce decree.
With respect to the documents needed to submit when filing for divorce in Malta, these are spouses’ identification documents. In case the spouses are separated, and they have the document to prove this, the court order or separation agreement must also be forwarded to the judge.
Our divorce lawyers in Malta can offer detailed information on each way of ending a marriage in this country.
Initiating a divorce in Malta
Article 66D in the Maltese Civil Code states that it is not mandatory for the divorce application to contain any proof of wrongdoing. In the eventuality that spouses have not been legally separated by contract or judgment, they can invoke the same motives as they would do in a legal separation.
Divorce in Malta can be initiated during legal separation also, if one of the spouses files an application according to article 66F in the Civil Code. The divorce procedure can only continue after the Maltese lawyers of the spouses and the court have tried to reunite the couple according to the Civil Code, article 66I.
In Malta, during the divorce procedures, the spouses must present themselves in front of a mediator appointed by the Minister and agree on:
- child custody and care;
- visitation rights;
- spouse and children support;
- who will remain in the matrimonial domicile;
- division of common property.
After reaching an agreement over these aspects, the divorce procedure will continue.
Divorce procedure in case of legal separation in Malta
If the couple is legally separated, the spouse making the request only needs to append a legal copy of the contract or judgment of separation to the divorce application. The spouse not wanting the divorce has the right to contest the request if the term for legal separation has not passed or if the solicitant has not paid the maintenance.
Documents to be prepared when getting divorced in Malta
In the first stage of divorce, an application form which must be drafted by a Maltese lawyer needs to be filed with the civil court of competence. Once the petition is accepted and depending on the grounds and if the dissolution is amicable or not, other documents must be submitted. Among these, the personal information of the parties, information about the children (where applicable) and about the estate to be divided.
If the divorce is not mutually agreed on, each party must designate a divorce lawyer in Malta to represent them and file the necessary evidence for a successful outcome. Where a prenuptial agreement is in place, the court will consider it upon the division of assets.
With respect to the duration of the proceedings, these can take up to 6 months in the case of uncontested divorce and our divorce lawyers in Malta can offer more information on it.
Maintenance after divorce in Malta
Divorce in Malta will not deprive parents of their rights and obligations towards children. Article 66L allows parties to marry again after the dissolution of the marriage was declared, but maintenance will cease for the party getting remarried. Children have the right to receive maintenance up to the age of 23 as long as they are enrolled in a full-time education system.
What are the consequences of a divorce in Malta?
Both separation and divorce attract specific consequences on both spouses. These consequences are contained by the documents which attest to them. Among them, our divorce lawyers in Malta mention:
- the right of both spouses towards one another and to their children, where the case applies;
- considering the needs of the children before all other matters, including child custody;
- the conditions under which one of the spouses is required to support the other;
- the division of the assets held jointly by the spouses during the marriage;
- the accommodation of the spouse keeping the children, where applicable;
- other provisions which are agreed upon by the spouses or the court.
It should be noted that Maltese courts also recognize and enforce foreign judgments related to divorce cases if the country where the divorce was decreed has an agreement with Malta.
Foreign citizens getting divorced in Malta
The number of foreign citizens living in Malta is quite important, many of them living here for years and they have adhered to the laws of this country. However, in certain civil matter situations, among which divorce, the Maltese law does not always apply. As a matter of fact, when it comes to foreign citizens seeking to obtain a divorce in Malta, the court will hear the case only if at least one of the spouses had a domicile in Malta at the time the divorce petition was filed or if at least one of the spouses was a resident of Malta for at least one year before the petition was filed.
In the case of those who obtain the divorce in Malta can have the judgement recognized by their home countries. This is also the case of Maltese citizens who have obtained divorce decrees in other countries and want to have them enforced here.
Our divorce lawyers in Malta can also help foreign citizens who want to file for marriage separation or annulment here. We can also guide in the procedure of having a divorce decision enforced in Malta.
We remind foreign citizens that Malta is also a member of the European Union which implies that certain directives have been transposes in the national legislation, thus easing the recognition of various court decisions here.
Divorce statistics in Malta
Until a few years ago, the Family Law in Malta was very strict when it came to divorce proceedings, however, once the Civil Code was amended and turned divorce into an easier procedure, the number of Maltese citizens asking for marriage termination has increased. Even so, Malta has one of the lowest divorce rates at an EU level. In numbers, this can be translated as it follows:
- at EU level, there were around 1 million divorces registered in 2016;
- in the same year, in Malta, the divorce rate was 12.2% per 100 marriages, one of the lowest in the EU;
- in 2017, the divorce rate in Malta was 0.7% per 1,000 inhabitants.
Our divorce lawyers in Malta can offer more information on the latest legal changes in the Family Law.
Assistance offered by our divorce lawyers in Malta
Our law firm in Malta can help both Maltese and foreign citizens looking to divorce here. We can help with the preparation of the case and documents to be presented before the court. Family courts deal with divorce procedures in Malta.
Our attorneys can advise in cases of amicable or court divorce proceedings by offering tailored solutions which are compatible with the clients’ requests, but also with the law. We can also help those who want to apply for separation or marriage annulment in Malta.
Foreign citizens seeking to have their divorce decrees recognized and enforced in Malta can also receive assistance related to the procedures and documents they need to prepare. Among these, having the paperwork translated and certified is mandatory. We can assist with these procedures through a power of attorney.
No matter the way you want to end your marriage, we invite you to reach out to our Maltese law firm for specialized assistance. We can also help in other family matters, such as child custody and support, spouse maintenance and division of assets.
If you need legal advice in cases of litigation, you can contact our lawyers in Malta.