Government publishes draft amendments to divorce act

divorce removing of wedding ring
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Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

The government has published to the draft amendments to the divorce law in which it is being proposed that the waiting time for when one can obtain a divorce is reduced.

At present, a couple has to be legally separated or living apart for at least four years to obtain a divorce. The four-year delay had been praised by the pro-divorce movement at the time of referendum campaign, nine years ago.

In the new proposals being put forward by the government, it is being suggested that when the demand is made jointly by the two spouses, they should have lived apart for a period that amount to at least six months out of the preceding year while when the demand is made by one of the spouses against the other spouse, they should have lived apart for a period that amounts to at least one year out of the preceding two years.

In a statement the government said that Prime Minister Robert Abela had listened to the plight of those initiating divorce proceedings and their calls for a change in the law.

On Wednesday, Cabinet approved the draft bill that will amend the conditions for divorce with Parliamentary Secretary for Equality Rosianne Cutajar tabled the bill in Parliament for its first reading.

The government said that the draft is proposing a distinction in waiting time for couples who are legally separated and for those who are no longer living together as a married couple.

It is also being proposed that for couples who are already legally separated either through a court judgement or contract, the parties should not be subjected to a waiting time before they can file for divorce.

Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis described the proposed amendments as natural and gradual. The proposals come after almost ten years since divorce legislation was enacted in Malta. He stressed that the changes are necessary and respect for one’s private and family life.

Parliamentary secretary Cutajar said that the amendments reflected today’s reality.

Divorce was introduced in Malta after a ‘yes’ vote in a referendum in 2011.