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Family Lawyers in Malta

Family Lawyers in Malta

Updated on Friday 18th September 2020

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Family Law is part of the Maltese Civil Code and provides the main legal framework for relations among family members. Family Law in Malta regulates issues regarding adoption, child custody, divorce, domestic violence, property rights, support obligations and marriage. All disputes arising from family matters are subject of litigation in civil courts of justice. Our family lawyers in Malta can offer extended information on the Family Law. We can also help in various matters related to the Maltese Family Law.
 

The Civil Code – the main law on family in Malta

 
The Civil Code is the primary source of law when it comes to family matters in Malta. It covers the following aspects:
 
  1. the first act provides for the rights of individuals or having families, but also on their rights and obligations within this institution;
  2. the same act also provides for divorce and the right of each spouse after the conclusion of the proceedings;
  3. the Family Law also provides for filiation which covers the rights of children born within a family;
  4. the law also covers aspects related to division of assets and maintenance of spouses in case of divorce;
  5. child custody, support and maintenance after divorce are also part of the Family Law in Malta;
  6. the Civil Code also covers aspects related to the rights and duties of ascendants and descendants, as well as other extended family members.
 
The last part mentioned above refers to inheritance matters which are covered by the Maltese Family Law. The Maltese Family Law can also be completed by the laws on child custody and child abduction. If you need support in a case related to Family Law matters, our family attorneys in Malta are at your disposal with full legal support. Also, you can explore the following infographic:
 
Legal services provided by our family lawyers in Malta (1).png
 

 

Marriage in Malta

 
Individuals are allowed to marry in Malta starting with the age of 16, if parents or tutors have agreed to the marriage. After the age of 18, persons do not need consent from parents or tutors. According to the Family Law in Maltamarriage can only be celebrated by a formal ceremony after the marriage banns have been published. Marriage banns must be published at least eight days prior to the ceremony, but a request for publication must be made at least six weeks before the marriage. According to the Marriage Act, a marriage is valid if it is concluded in front of two adult witnesses and if it is officiated by a clergyman or a local council major. Marriages in Malta may only take place at the Marriage Register or another venue approved by the Register.
 
The following documents need to be filed when getting married in Malta:
 
  • the birth certificates of both spouses, in original and copies;
  • the free status certificate issued by a Maltese court or by other authorities;
  • the divorce certificate if any of the spouses was previously married (where applicable);
  • the death certificate of a deceased person in the case of widowers;
  • information about the witness (at least one witness must be present at the city hall).
 
The marriage will be concluded in the Maltese city where one of the spouses resides. Foreign citizens can also get married in Malta even if they are not residents of this country. However, they are advised to schedule an appointment a few months before the wedding. They must also have their valid passport with them when traveling to Malta.
 
Even if the procedure is not different for foreign citizens getting married in Malta, it is advised to request legal services in matter of documents. Our Maltese family lawyers can offer more information on this aspect.
 

The Marriage Registry in Malta

 
The Maltese Marriage Registry was enabled in 1975 under the provisions of the Marriage Act in the Civil Law. In 2014, Malta also enacted the Civil Unions Act. Nowadays, the Registry recognizes both marriages and civil unions in Malta. Among the services offered by the Maltese Register are the marriage room where the ceremonies are officiated and also helps foreign citizens getting married in Malta by providing them with the required information. The Registry also maintains a database of the children born in Malta.
 
The Maltese Marriage Register recognizes marriages officiated in other countries.
 

Marriage application in Malta

 
The first step when getting married in Malta is to file a marriage application, mainly known as a request for the publication of banns. The marriage application is completed by submitting a RZ1 form with the Marriage Registry in Valletta or Gozo. This step is required for both civil and religious marriages in Malta.
 
The application must be submitted six weeks prior the selected marriage date, but no sooner than three months. Foreign citizens are advised to address the Marriage Registry when firstly arriving in Malta and verify all procedures that must be completed. When filling the marriage application, the future spouses must also state the marriage venue and, in case of a religious wedding, the name of the priest is also required.
 

Separation, divorce and annulment in Malta

 
According to the Maltese Civil Law, separation may only happen in cases of adultery, excesses or threats, leaving the marital home and marriage breakdown. According to Maltese laws, married people must go to mediation before separating.
The annulment of a marriage represents the dissolution of marital relations and it is usually employed by individuals after separation. Marriage annulment is regulated by the Marriage Act, chapter 255Annulment of marriage in Malta can happen on several grounds, but when parties consenting to the dissolution must provide a good and sufficient reason.
 
The divorce procedure has been recently introduced in the Maltese legislation. The reason why divorce was delayed was that Malta is a Catholic country and divorce raised a lot of moral problems for the society. Divorce differs from marriage annulment mainly because no reason must be given when divorcing. However, in Malta divorce is an option after four years of separation of the spouses.
 
It is important to know that in order to obtain a divorce in Malta, any of the parties need to mention a reason, as in other countries. However, the Family Law provides for spouses to have lived apart at least 4 years from the separation or out of 5 years of marriage. Considering the Maltese court of law will try to reconcile the spouses, there must be no grounds for reconciliation for the court to accept the divorce petition of one of the parties.
 
At the moment, there is no amicable procedure which can be completed outside the court in Malta, so even if spouses agree to end a marriage, a petition with the Family Court must be filed by both spouses.
 
We have specialized family lawyers in Malta  who can help in such delicate matters and who can also handle the consequences of divorce, such as child custody and maintenance.
 

Child custody in Malta

 
Child custody is a debated issue once a family breaks down. In this case, a court will decide who the legal custody of minor children will belong to. Child custody in Malta can be jointly or can be entrusted to one of the spouses. When separation or divorce arises, maintenance is also very important and Article 6 in the Civil Law states a spouse leaving the matrimonial house will lose the right to maintenance. However, in case of underage children, both parents have the obligation to maintain them until they reach adulthood.
 

The Maltese Family Court of Law

 
Introduced in 2003, the Family Section in the judiciary in Malta quickly became the Family Court which now handles the following procedures related to family matters:
 
  • divorce procedures and hearings, which is Malta also imply marriage annulment and separation;
  • custody and maintenance of minor children no matter if these are born in or outside a marriage;
  • paternity and filiation matters, in respect to the Child Custody Act and the Child Abduction Law;
  • adoption matters can, in certain cases, be tried and reviewed by the Family Court in Malta;
  • the judge presiding the Family Court can also sign mutual separation agreements and other similar documents.
 
It should be mentioned that mediation is the first step to complete before a judge of the Family Court signs a separation agreement. Our law firm in Malta can represent you before the Family Court.
 

Enforcement of judgements in family law cases in Malta

 
All litigation cases related to family matters are tried by the Family Court in Malta. While Chapter 16 in the Civil Law provides for custody cases under the Maltese Family Law, the Civil Procedure Code establishes that a court can refuse custody to both parents, if the child or children are in danger. When it comes to child maintenance, the court can grant the party required to pay for child support or maintenance after divorce for a period of time before enforcing the judgement, according to Article 222 in the Civil Procedure Code.
 

Foreign citizens and the Maltese Family Law

 
Foreign citizens also have rights under the Family Law in Malta if they have obtained residence permits here. One of the most important laws in the specter of the Family Law is the Child Custody Act which specifically provides for the rights acquired by foreign citizens adopted by Maltese nationals.
 
As mentioned above, foreigners can marry Maltese citizens and thus obtain various rights. At last, a divorce procedure where one of the spouses is a foreign national can be completed in Malta and then recognized by the similar court of justice in the foreign citizen’s home country.
 
For details about the legislation on family matters or legal representation in civil litigations, you can contact our law firm in Malta. Our family lawyers in Malta are here to help.