A couple who has been living apart for over two decades made legal history yesterday when the Maltese court granted the first divorce under a law than came into force this month.

The couple, who was legally separated, had filed a joint application in the Family Court requesting divorce after legislation was introduced in the country following a referendum.

Madame Justice Abigail Lofaro noted that the couple had been living apart for 21 years since their separation. Their children were now adults, so there were no issues over the payment of maintenance.

Furthermore, the couple agreed there would be no reconciliation. Given this scenario, the court declared the couple divorced and gave the court registrar a month to inform the director of the Public Registry about the decree so that the divorce could be registered.

The court also upheld the woman’s request to revert back to her maiden surname.

The names of the couple were not listed in the court judgment, as is common practice in Family Court cases that are of a private and sensitive nature.

Divorce legislation came into force on October 1 after the Maltese voted to introduce divorce in a referendum held in May and the law being approved by Parliament in July.

According to the new law, only couples who have lived apart or have been separated for four years in the past five can apply for divorce.

Over the past few months, lawyers have expressed concern that the Family Court does not have adequate human resources to cope with the influx of divorce cases. Having two judges in the Family Court would not be enough and the number of mediators has to increase, they feel.

Lawyer Josette Grech represented the man and lawyer Fiorella de Marco appeared for the woman.

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