In Malta

A legal dissolution of the marriage contract by a court or other body having competent authority.

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Addressing the Issue

In Malta, legislation allows married people to either get divorced abroad if they are entitled to, or to have their marriage declared null and void through annulment and, in both circumstances, to re-marry. Alternatively, the State acknowledges that a couple�s marriage has broken down and allows them to separate without being permitted to re-marry.

The only missing element in the present legal separation process, therefore � in contrast to foreign divorce or annulment � is that those people who have been separated cannot re-marry. We have legal remedies equivalent to divorce in every respect except one � the right to re-marry.

The State, represented by the government of the day, has a direct responsibility for ensuring that the family is protected even when marriages fail. Indeed, especially when marriages fail. It does this in two ways. First, it ensures through its policies and structures that marriages and the family are given the protection, tools and support for them to endure.

Secondly however, the State also has a responsibility to ensure that when marriages do break down the legal processes for coping with the fall-out are just, efficient and as humane as possible. A more just society which recognises the need to safeguard the common good should be the State�s objective here, recognising none-the-less that those whose marriages have broken down and who in due course wish to re-marry, do so because they wish to return to the marriage fold and to participate once more in consolidating the stability of their new family in a new and legal marital relationship.

Society and the State have a vested interest in promoting stable marriages. The State also has to cater for the reality that, despite best efforts to avert it, marriages will continue to break down. And when they do, the State must give legal recognition to this fact in such a way as to acknowledge the need to support the institution of marriage, not further weaken it. When marriages fail, the government must act in such a way as to acknowledge the need to encourage the institution of marriage as the preferred framework for a stable relationship and a family and to discourage co-habitation as the relationship of last resort.

Whilst a referendum on this issue is in our opinion not the right way forward, the government and members of parlament have decided to proceed in this manner. The referendum to be held on May 28 2011 in Malta will be presenting a question which in it's own merit has also been a cause of debate.

At this stage, given that a referendum will take place, it is important that those in favour of the introduction of divorce vote YES and also explain to others who are undecided. The clear message must be that in voting YES one is not stating that 'divorce per se is good', yet that having an option to civil remarry is in itself a social and legal right that consolidates the individuals wish to get married and create a solid family framework.

On another note, those who want to deny divorce to the thousands who need this civil right should not be allowed to prevail merely because they are being clouded in thinking clearly and being given the impression that by voting YES for divorce there will be further breakdown of marriage as we know it. If this was the case, since divorce is not currently legislated in Malta we would have no separations!

Update 30 May 2011: In a historic vote and referendum the Maltese public voted YES to the legislation of Divorce with a majority of nearly 53% on a voting turnout of 72%.


Click Here to see the official website of the IVA Pro-Divorce Group