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Last update: 17-05-2006
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Maintenance claims - Malta

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1. What do the concepts “maintenance”and “maintenance obligation”cover according to the law of (name of the State which fills in the sheet)?

In terms of Maltese law, the term “maintenance” includes food, clothing, health and habitation. In the case of children, it also includes health and education expenses.  Maintenance is due according to the means of the person requesting it, and the means of the person supplying it.

By the term “maintenance obligations”, the law identifies a number of people who are bound to supply maintenance:

  1. Spouses owe each other material support and both spouses are bound to maintain each other and to contribute towards the needs of the family, each in proportion to his/her means and of his/her ability to work in the home or outside the home according to the needs of the family. Moreover, a spouse has a prior right over the parents or other ascendants. If both the children and the spouse claim maintenance, they are in a position of equality. Spouses may not claim maintenance from the children or from ascendants if such maintenance can be obtained from the other spouse. However, the duty of one spouse to maintain the other ceases, if the spouse claiming maintenance would have abandoned the matrimonial home without good cause and refuses to return.
  2. Spouses are bound to maintain the children of the marriage. It is also the duty of parents to maintain, instruct and educate their children.
  3. Children have a duty to maintain their parents or other ascendants if they are in need
  4. The responsibility to supply maintenance falls onto brothers and sisters, of full or half-blood, so long as there is no-one to supply maintenance.

2. Up to what age can a child benefit from a maintenance allowance?

Up to 18 years of age.

3. In which cases is the law of (+ name of the State which fills in the sheet) applicable?

Maltese law is applicable to:

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  • Citizens of Malta, provided they are not domiciled in some other country;
  • Any person domiciled, resident or present in Malta.

4. If this law is not applicable, which law will the courts of (+ name of the State which fills in the sheet ) would apply?

Generally it’s the law of domicile which applies.

If both the person who asks for maintenance and the debtor are in Malta:

5. Should the applicant apply to a specific organisation, a government department (central or local) or a court to obtain maintenance?

An applicant has to apply to the Civil Court, Family Section. Also refer to the theme on “Divorce - Malta” reply 5 and 11 in the case of separation proceedings. The applicant has to inform the court about the facts of his/her case and requests the court to order the spouse or ascendant or descendant to supply maintenance.

How do I apply for maintenance from this organisation or government department (central or local), and what procedures apply?

Refer to reply 4 above.

6. Can a request be made on behalf of a relative, a close relation, or a child under age?

Yes. In the case of a child, action has to be instituted by the parent/s having parental authority or the tutor or curator (if any). In the case of an interdicted or incapacitated person (see explanation in reply 11) the curator files the action on behalf of the applicant. In the case of a person who is absent from Malta, a procurator acting on behalf of the person may file the action in court. However, if the applicant is present in Maltathis is not allowed.

7. If the applicant plans to bring the case to court, how does he/she knows which court has jurisdiction?

As in reply 3 above.

8. Does the applicant have to go through an intermediary to bring the case to court (e.g. a lawyer, specific organisation or government department (central or local) etc.)? If not, which procedures?

Yes, the application has to be drafted and signed by a legal practitioner unless the applicant qualifies for free legal aid. Refer to 9 below.

9. Does the applicant have to pay fees to bring a case to court? If so, how much are they likely to be? If the financial means of the plaintiff are insufficient, can he/she obtain legal aid to cover the costs of the procedure?

To file a writ of summons the sum of circa LM78.00 Maltese Liri is charged as legal expenses to initiate proceedings. In the case of a maintenance claim pending separation proceedings, refer to the theme on “Divorce - Malta” reply to questions 5 and 11. If the financial means of the claimant are insufficient he/she may request to be represented by Advocates of Legal Aid which are free of charge (Refer to “Legal Aid - Malta”).

10. What kind of maintenance is likely to be granted by the court? If an allowance is granted how will it be assessed? Can the court's decision be revised to take account of the changes in the costs of living or family circumstances?

Maintenance is usually granted in monthly instalments or in a lump sum depending on the imminent needs of the person claiming it. Maintenance is due according to the means of the person requesting it (the value of any movable or immovable property and any beneficial interest under a trust is considered) and the means of the person supplying it. In considering if the person claiming it can actually provide for his/her own maintenance, his/her ability to exercise any profession, art or trade is taken into consideration. In calculating the means of the person bound to supply maintenance, his/her earnings from any profession, art or trade, salary or pension and the fruits of any movable/immovable property and any income derived from a trust scheme is taken into consideration.

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The court’s decision may be reviewed or revised if a specific request is made to the court by means of an application wherein the supervening circumstances of the case are explained and a request is made to increase or decrease the amount of maintenance allowance depending on who is making the request.

11. How and to whom will the maintenance be paid?

The maintenance will be paid out to the person who is specified in the court decree. In the case of a child, it is paid to the parent/s who are exercising parental authority or a tutor and/or curator (if any). In the case of an interdicted person (when a curator is appointed to look after the interests of a person who is completely incapable of looking after his/her affairs by means of an application to the Civil Court, Voluntary Jurisdiction) or an incapacitated person (when a curator is appointed to look after the interests of a person who is incapable of looking after some of his/her affairs eg on contracts because the person is a spendthrift) the maintenance will be paid to the curator appointed by the court.

12. if the maintenance debtor doesn't pay voluntarily, what action can be taken in order to force him/her to pay?

Criminal proceedings may be instituted against the debtor by the Police, once they receive a report from the person who was meant to receive the maintenance.

Moreover, civil proceedings (independently from the criminal proceedings) may be filed against the debtor requesting the Court that granted the order or decree to order the debtor to pay the aggregate amount of maintenance due in a lump sum. Once the judgement becomes final and absolute, the claimant may file a garnishee order (by order of the court the assets of the debtor are frozen up to the amount of the judgement) or a warrant of seizure (by order of the court the assets of the debtor are seized by the court marshal and sold by judicial sale up to the amount specified in the judgement) to recover the total amount of maintenance from the debtor.

13. Is there an organisation or government department (central or local) which can help me to recover maintenance?

  1. Agency Appogg – Legal Services assist victims of domestic violence by providing them with a free legal advice session and;
  2. the services of a private legal practitioner are engaged or;
  3. the Advocates for Legal Aid service which is free of charge may be utilized if the applicant satisfies the conditions as in reply 9.

14. Can they replace the debtor and pay the maintenance themselves or part of the maintenance in his or her place?

No, however if a person is a Maltese citizen and residing in Malta or a foreigner legally staying in Malta and proves to the satisfaction of the Director of Social Services that he/she is suffering hardship, the Director has the discretion of assisting the person with social assistance which is paid in subsidium of maintenance. However, the Department has a right to recover the amount paid as social assistance by taking action against the person who was duty bound to maintain the applicant.

If the petitioner is in England and Wales and the maintenance debtor has his/her residence in another country:

15. Can the petitioner obtain the assistance of an organisation or government department (central or local) in England and Wales?

As in reply 13.

16. if so, how can that organisation or government department (central or local) be contacted?

  1. Agenzija Appogg - 36, St Luke’s Road, G’Mangia - Tel: 00356 23885000
  2. Department of Social Security - 38, Ordinance StreetValletta - tel: 00356 25903200
  3. Advocates for Legal Aid - Law Courts, Valletta - Tel: 00356 21223281

17. What kind of assistance can the petitioner receive from this organisation or government department (central or local)?

As in reply 13 above.

if the petitioner is in another country and the maintenance debtor is in England and Wales:

18. Can the petitioner address directly a request to an organisation or government department (central or local) in England and Wales?

All requests have to pass through the Courts.

19. if so, how can that organisation or government department (central or local) be contacted?

N.A.

20. What kind of assistance can the petitioner receive from this organisation or government department (central or local)?

As in reply 13 above.

Further information

  • Ministry of Justice Homepage Malti

« Maintenance claims - General information | Malta - General information »

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Last update: 17-05-2006

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. What do the concepts “maintenance”and “maintenance obligation”cover according to the law of (name of the State which fills in the sheet)? 1.
2. Up to what age can a child benefit from a maintenance allowance? 2.
3. In which cases is the law of (+ name of the State which fills in the sheet) applicable? 3.
4. If this law is not applicable, which law will the courts of (+ name of the State which fills in the sheet ) would apply? 4.
If both the person who asks for maintenance and the debtor are in Malta: If both the person who asks for maintenance and the debtor are in Malta:
5. Should the applicant apply to a specific organisation, a government department (central or local) or a court to obtain maintenance? 5.
How do I apply for maintenance from this organisation or government department (central or local), and what procedures apply? How do I apply for maintenance from this organisation or government department (central or local), and what procedures apply?
6. Can a request be made on behalf of a relative, a close relation, or a child under age? 6.
7. If the applicant plans to bring the case to court, how does he/she knows which court has jurisdiction? 7.
8. Does the applicant have to go through an intermediary to bring the case to court (e.g. a lawyer, specific organisation or government department (central or local) etc.)? If not, which procedures? 8.
9. Does the applicant have to pay fees to bring a case to court? If so, how much are they likely to be? If the financial means of the plaintiff are insufficient, can he/she obtain legal aid to cover the costs of the procedure? 9.
10. What kind of maintenance is likely to be granted by the court? If an allowance is granted how will it be assessed? Can the court's decision be revised to take account of the changes in the costs of living or family circumstances? 10.
11. How and to whom will the maintenance be paid? 11.
12. if the maintenance debtor doesn't pay voluntarily, what action can be taken in order to force him/her to pay? 12.
13. Is there an organisation or government department (central or local) which can help me to recover maintenance? 13.
14. Can they replace the debtor and pay the maintenance themselves or part of the maintenance in his or her place? 14.
If the petitioner is in England and Wales and the maintenance debtor has his/her residence in another country: If the petitioner is in England and Wales and the maintenance debtor has his/her residence in another country:
15. Can the petitioner obtain the assistance of an organisation or government department (central or local) in England and Wales? 15.
16. if so, how can that organisation or government department (central or local) be contacted? 16.
17. What kind of assistance can the petitioner receive from this organisation or government department (central or local)? 17.
if the petitioner is in another country and the maintenance debtor is in England and Wales: if the petitioner is in another country and the maintenance debtor is in England and Wales:
18. Can the petitioner address directly a request to an organisation or government department (central or local) in England and Wales? 18.
19. if so, how can that organisation or government department (central or local) be contacted? 19.
20. What kind of assistance can the petitioner receive from this organisation or government department (central or local)? 20.
 
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