Breaking International divorce news:
Malta is one of the few countries in the world, well, one of two, probably, where divorce is absolutely verboten. (Philippines is the only other country I’m aware of.) But with the other European Union countries granting comity to other countries’ divorce judgments and laws, the Maltese got nervous that they would have to allow divorce within their borders, in violation of their laws, to be in line with the other countries in the EU. Well, not to worry. According to yesterday’s Times of Malta:
Malta has been given an assurance that its courts would not be obliged to apply divorce laws of other member states, the Ministry of Justice said today.
Justice and Home Affairs Minister Carm Mifsud Bonnici is currently in Brussels for a Justice Ministers’ meeting. Topics discussed this morning included the applicability of laws on divorce and legal separation in the context of enhanced cooperation among a group of member states, which includes Malta.
“Malta has been assured that its courts will not be obliged to apply the divorce laws of other States and thus give divorce judgements,” the ministry said.
The other Member States participating in this measure have accepted the insertion of this assurance in Article 7a of the Regulation. That article specifically provides that the courts of a Member State whose law does not provide for divorce are not obliged to pronounce a divorce by applying a foreign law in Maltese courts.
The European Commission said that the new rules would bring legal certainty to couples who came from different countries and wished to divorce.
The new legislation will give a choice as to which country’s rules apply in case of divorce for couples with different nationalities, those living apart in different countries or those living together in a country other than their home country. It aims to reduce forum shopping and to protect weaker partners during divorce disputes.
It marks the first time in history that EU countries use the so-called “enhanced cooperation” mechanism, which allows nine or more Member States to move forward on a measure that is important, but which nevertheless is blocked on the basis of the normal voting rules.