The Malta Independent 14 April 2021, Wednesday

Divorce reform: Opposition Leader says government proposals create discrimination

Monday, 1 March 2021, 17:36 Last update: about 2 months ago

The PN agrees that divorce waiting times should be shortened, but the Bill presented by the government leads to discrimination and the possibility of abuse, Opposition Leader Bernard Grech said Monday.

He was speaking in Parliament in the debate on a Bill that will see the 2011 divorce laws reformed. Currently, separated couples have to wait four years until they can apply for divorce.


The Bill under debate proposes that already separated couples will have no waiting time. In cases where both parties file for divorce, the waiting time will be slashed from four years to just six months. In cases where only one party applies for divorce, the waiting time will be one year.

Reacting to the Prime Minister’s earlier speech, Grech said the Opposition agrees in principle, but the government’s proposals need to be improved. The proposed law is incomplete and has serious defects, he said.

He said the law discriminates between couples where both parties agree to divorce and those where only one person files for divorce. In the latter case, the waiting time is one year. This, he said, could be used by one of the persons involved as leverage.

He also said that the condition for couples to have to be separated already does not make sense, as it could actually end up lengthening the entire process.

“Before, people could apply for divorce before the separation was finalised. People should be allowed to apply for separation and divorce at the same time.”

He appealed to the government to show humility, sit down with the Opposition and work out these issues.

The Opposition has already proposed these changes, but the government did not include them in its Bill, he said.

He also proposed that women who separate can decide to revert back to her maiden surname at any time between separation in divorce, giving them more time to decide.

“Let’s think things through and do this properly,” he said, while extending a genuine invitation to the government to discuss the Bill in detail and make the necessary changes.

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