Divorce to be introduced into the Maltese legal system
After a highly controversial national referendum paving the way for the introduction of divorce legislation within the Maltese legal system, the stage has now been set for a, somewhat thorough, rethinking of traditional Maltese family law conceptions. Heavily influenced by the ‘Irish model’ of divorce legislation, the legislative amendments to the Maltese Civil Code, in effect, carry with them a number of underlying legal implications stemming from their strategic placement within what is, essentially, a litigious-based personal separation system. Indeed, by virtue of these amendments, the legislative provisions regulating personal separation and divorce would now appear to be inextricably interlinked, with separation proceedings, possibly, serving as a prelude to the initiation of divorce proceedings in Malta. Indeed, an aggrieved spouse may now file an application in Court asking for a judicial pronouncement of divorce if the spouses in question have been separated, de facto or in virtue of a judicial pronouncement, for at least four years. Alternatively, the spouses may agree to conclude a contract regulating their divorce. In both scenarios, mediation is a necessary prerequisite.
In this vein, the intricacies surrounding the regulation of maintenance awards, as well as their possible conditioning of the divorce proceedings as a whole will, undoubtedly, provide fertile ground for the gradual judicial development of structured principles apt to provide greater consistency and stability. Within this context, specialized legal advice is clearly of the essence in choosing between the carefully-constructed routes now available under Maltese law.