Unless the couple agrees otherwise, the default regime for married couples in Malta is that of the Community of Acquests which stipulates that everything the couple acquires during marriage, both in financial as well as in material, terms belongs to both spouses in equal shares and is administered by both jointly. Thus, if a house is bought by a couple after they have gotten married, it belongs to both parties equally regardless of whether one party put more of his or her own individual earnings towards the purchase price (in the Community of Acquests everything that one earns belongs to both spouses unless otherwise specified).
In the Community of Acquests, the only items which remain the husband or wife’s personal property exclusively are those which have been purchased before the contract of marriage took place. A clear example of this is when the husband or wife buys a car before the contract of marriage takes place with his or her own money. After marriage, this car will still belong exclusively to the party who purchased it and the other party would have absolutely no claim over it should the marriage irretrievably break down.
If separation does take place, a married couple who has adopted the Community of Acquests regime is legally bound to divide everything they have acquired during marriage in two equal shares regardless of whether or not one party has contributed more to the union or not in material terms.
Although the Community of Acquests safeguards the well-being of the family by promoting equality and ensuring protection to both parties regardless of how much they are able to contribute to the financial pool, a great disadvantage of this particular regime is that should one of the spouses accrue debts which can no longer be settled, creditors will have the right to claim money or property from both married parties. According to the Community of Acquests everything is shared equally, even debt. Thus, it is for this reason that some people turn to the Separation of Estates regime.
In the Separation of Estates regime (which is the second most popular system out of the matrimonial regimes), everything that is purchased whether before or after marriage belongs exclusively to the one who purchased it. Thus, if a house is bought by both parties, the couple would have co-ownership up to the share they would have paid. This regime is usually adopted by people who have businesses or when one party is financially much better off than the other and wants to safeguard his or her assets. Although some people have argued that this regime is less family-friendly than the Community of Acquests, the reality is that if one of the spouses is in a risky profession where there is a chance of him losing his property, the Separation of Estates regime will ensure that the other party is protected from financial ruin.
Less popular than the previously mentioned Community of Acquests and Separation of Estates, the Community of Residue under Separate Administration or CORSA ensures that spouses maintain separate estates for the duration of their marriage and will share any residue left equally between them once the marriage dissolves.
It is ultimately up to each couple to choose which of the matrimonial regimes fits their lifestyle and relationship best; however, if they do not take the necessary steps to adopt one of the matrimonial regimes mentioned above via a public act, the Community of Acquests regime will automatically come into play.