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The Introduction of Divorce Law into the Maltese Legal System
On 1st October 2011, divorce was introduced into the Maltese Legal system.
A private member’s bill for the introduction of divorce was presented by a Member of Parliament in July 2010. Subsequently, a new joint private member’s bill was presented by two members of the House of Representatives from both the Government and Opposition sides. A lengthy discussion followed in Parliament and the issue was decided in favour of the introduction of a divorce law following a referendum held on the 28 May 2011. On 1st October 2011, divorce was introduced into the Maltese Legal system.
The law states that each of the spouses shall have the right to demand divorce or dissolution of the marriage. The law does not require that the spouses shall be separated from each other by means of a contract or of a judgement.
The divorce or dissolution of the marriage shall be granted by virtue of a judgement of the competent civil court, upon the demand of one or the other of the spouses, or by a decree of the same court where the spouses shall have agreed that their marriage should be dissolved.
Divorce shall not be granted except upon a demand made jointly by the two spouses or by one of them against the other spouse, and unless the Court is satisfied that:
- 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 four years out of the immediately preceding five years, or at least four years have lapsed from the date of legal separation; and
- there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation between the spouses; and
- the spouses and all of their children are receiving adequate maintenance, where this is due, according to their particular circumstances.
The Maltese Courts of Civil Jurisdiction have jurisdiction to hear and determine a demand for divorce only if at least 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 before the competent civil court;
- 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.
The full text of the provisions related to divorce may be accessed here.