Family Life

Last Updated: 05/10/2020
Marriage Equality
 
Malta introduced Marriage Equality in July 2017, just over three years after the introduction of Civil Unions in April of 2014. The Marriage Act and other Laws (Amendment) Act was introduced as the first law of the 13th legislature, in order to remove all distinction between different-sex and same-sex couples before the law (Act XXIII of 2017​).  
 
It therefore extends all the rights and obligations of marriage to all couples; introduces gender neutral language that is also inclusive of gender variant persons; re-affirms automatic co-parent recognition; and regulates surnames and family name. 
 
Subsequent subsidiary legislation​ provided for the conversion of civil unions to marriage. All members of parliament, with one exception, voted in favour of the legislation. 
 
​Civil Unions​

 
The Civil Unions Act (ACT IX of 2014) which was passed on the 14th April 2014 was the first to grant recognition to same-sex couples and was open to all couples irrespective of sexual orientation or gender identity. It provided for recognition at par with marriage and included parenting rights (second parent and third-party adoptions as well as automatic co-parent recognition) as well as recognising same-sex marriages entered into in 3rd countries.
 
The passing of the legislation gave rise to a spontaneous celebration outside parliament where a huge cheer could be heard among the crowd as the live broadcast transmitted the law being approved.
 
The Civil Unions Act​ was drafted by the LGBTIQ Consultative Council in consultation with the then Ministry for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties. It was the first task the council was commissioned to focus on following its establishment in 2013. 
 
Subsidiary legislation​ provided for the recognition of civil unions deemed to be of equivalent status which were entered into abroad.
 
Following the introduction of marriage equality in 2017, the Conversion of Civil Unions into Marriage Regulations made it possible for those in a Civil Union to convert their legal recognition to marriage. The regulation allowed for a 5-year time limit from its coming into force for such conversions to take place. This time period will close on the 1st September 2022. Such conversion from Civil Unions to Marriage is only possible for those who entered into a Civil Union before the introduction of marriage equality.
 
Cohabitation
 

The Cohabitation Act (ActXXVII of 2020) has superseded the 2017 Cohabitation Act, and considerably clarifies the procedures, rights, and duties for cohabitants. If you are already a legally registered cohabitant, this law does not affect you. You may, however, choose to amend your current contract to upgrade it to the new format.

A cohabitation is registered by means of a public deed. This deed declares that you and your partner can legally enter into a cohabitation, and informs third parties that you have a wide range of rights and duties.

Should you wish to terminate your relationship, a public deed is drafted, and then authorised by the Family Court, to ensure that no party is harmed by how the cohabitation is dissolved.

For more information, please view the leaflet published by the Ministry for Justice, Equality, and Governance.
  
Medically Assisted Insemination  

The EmbryoProtection Act was amended, redefining ‘prospective parent’ and removing any discriminatory exclusions on the basis of SOGIGESC and catering for third-party donations through Act XXIV of 2018​ (The Embryo Protection (Amendment) Act. IVF treatment can be accessed through a referral by a GP to the ART Clinic at Mater Dei. Any queries should be addressed to the Embryo Protection Authority​.

Registration and recognition of births
 
In the case of every child born, it is the duty of the parents, and in default of both, of the physician, surgeon, midwife, or any other person in attendance at the birth, or in whose house the birth has taken place, to give, within fifteen days of such birth, notice thereof to the Public Registry. The person transmitting such notice, is to present their Identity Card, and any documentation provided to them by the hospital.
 
Where the birth occurred in Malta they must register at:
 
Identity Malta Agency Office,
Mater Dei Hospital,
San Gwann, Malta
 
Or
 
Public Registry,
Evans Building,
Merchants Street,
Valletta VTL2000,
Malta
Tel: (356) 2590 4200
 
Where the birth occurred in Gozo they must register at:
 
Public Registry,
By the Bastion Road,
Victoria VCT 2909,
Gozo
Tel: (356) 2215 6381/2/3/5
 
The birth certificates use gender neutral terminology such as Parent 1 and Parent 2 rather than mother or father.
 
Upon the birth of a child parents may opt not to declare the gender of the new-born on the birth certificate. This is not in itself a third gender but rather a non-declaration of gender on this certificate. A gender must be declared any time up till the child reaches the age of 18 (Article 278C of the Civil Code).
 
It is important to keep in mind that not having a gender marker visible on your birth certificate, does not imply that a person does not have a gender identity and expression. The person may grow up to identify and match the sex assigned at birth or to identify with a different gender, just like any other M/F registered person.
 
It is also important to note that parents of intersex children may also choose to register their child as male or female and may avail themselves of legal gender recognition procedures should it later become clear that the gender identity of the child does not match the gender assigned at birth.
 
Adoption
 
LGBTIQ persons are entitled to equal access to third party adoption whether as single persons or as a couple who are married or in a civil union as well as to second parent adoption (Civil Unions Act​). ​
 
Third party adoption
 
It is possible to access local as well as intercountry adoptions. Prospective adoptive parents need to complete a number of steps and satisfy various criteria. These include completing an adoption training course as well as a home-study report.
 
Malta enjoys a well-established cooperation with Portugal from where intercountry adoptions for same-sex couples are available. Following the launch of the National Adoption Strategy for Children and their Families 2019-22​, the Social Care Standards Authority (SCSA) commits itself to further exploring possibilities of new protocols with third countries which allow for the adoption of minors by same-sex couples. The SCSA has also amended a number of its forms to incorporate gender neutral terms when referring to adoptive parents.
 
Second-parent Adoption
 
Second parent adoption makes it possible for one person to adopt the child of their partner. However, this is only possible if the parent who did not give birth is not listed on the birth certificate.
 
Rules and requirements for surrogacy

 
Surrogacy is not legal in Malta for all persons. However, it is possible for persons who access surrogacy in another country where this is legal, to then register the child in Malta.




**This information shall not be construed to be legal advice. For further detail, kindly speak to your advocate or notary of choice.