Divorce should come before cohabitation regulation, says Moviment Iva

Regulating cohabitation before providing the option for separated couples to divorce and remarry would “institutionalise social chaos”, says pro-divorce lobby chairperson and family lawyer Dr Deborah Schembri.

Deborah Schembri has questioned the reason why Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi is refusing to publish a draft cohabitation bill that is currently being reviewed by the President of the Republic.

She said cohabitation regulation before the introduction of divorce would push couples who are separated and unable to remarry towards cohabitation, “promoting social chaos instead of the stability of marriage.”

"Everyone should be freely given a choice between cohabitation and marriage, but the State has an obligation to promote marriage over cohabitation," she said.

Referring to the Prime Minister’s refusal to publish the draft law, Schembri said that without knowing what sort of cohabitation regulation awaits those couples who cannot marry “the people will be voting blindly” in the referendum on divorce.

She said that whatever the form of the cohabitation regulations introduced, “it will never grant the same rights, or amount of rights, as marriage, as this would undermine marriage as an institution.”

She also said that the Prime Minister told Iva during their meeting that the government was approaching cohabitation regulation with the same approach as the regulations governing the provision of services (serviġi).

Schembri slammed this approach: “As a woman, I find it humiliating and degrading that any woman that chooses to cohabit would be considered that she is simply providing a service to her partner. It brings to mind issues and circumstances far removed from divorce, cohabitation, and separation.”

She clarified that such an approach would apply to both partners within a cohabiting relationship.

In his own address, Nationalist MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando pointed out that the way the cohabitation draft law was presented to the President for review as far back as 2009 without having been tabled in the social affairs committee for parliamentary debate is “not usual.”

He called on the anti-divorce lobby Zwieg Bla Divorzju to similarly apply pressure on the government to release the cohabitation draft law “in the interest of a  well informed public.”

Schembri also reiterated concerns she voiced to MaltaToday over clashing rights between cohabitation and separated individuals. Citing the example of fidelity, she said that current separation laws still place the obligation of faithfulness and fidelity on married couples, even if separated.

She said that should a separated spouse cohabit with others, the State would find itself regulating a cohabiting couple where one of or both partners would still be obliged to be faithful to their previous partner by the State itself.

“We could very well end up in a situation that is very, very close to institutionalised bigamy and a regulatory system rife with internal contradictions,” she said.

Schembri also cited a March 2011 study by the University of Malta’s Institute of Family Studies which asked married or separated respondents on whether they would consider remarrying.

She said that the younger people are, the more likely they are to remarry, as those under 40 years of age were most likely to do so. She added that the most popular reason given for the choice of remarrying was that of love.

She added that those who are employed within jobs and who are the highest professional achievers were also the most likely to remarry.

“This addresses the concerns raised that working spouses won’t be able to support previous families, as those most  likely to remarry are higher earners,” Schembri said.

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It would be a case of "only in Malta" if cohabiation would be legislated before divorce! Well for starters legislation on cohabitation would not be able to effectively tackle those separated as otherwise the state would be legislating another from of bigamy. What would the PN propose covering, cohabitation of priests with concu****s among others? Its a can of worms whichever way you look at it which will haunt the PN for years to come.
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Proset dr.Deborah schembri. naf min jien li ilu snin irabbi tfal , huwa separat/legalment u mhux f'relazzjoni . Imma xorta ser jivvota IVA ghad Divorzju, mhux sabiex jizzzewweg izda sabiex jigi HIELES mili ghall-isfortuna jibqa jidher mizewweg ghal Ligi. Il-helsien ma hawnx aqwa minnu
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Isabelle Borg
Tpoggi tistgha, terga tizzewweg le. Pajjiz vera tan- n***.
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Jista' xi hadd jghidli x'inhi d-differenza bejn bniedem jikkoabita', bniedem poggut u bniedem ingarzat? Nghid jien jekk m'hemmx differenza mhux ahjar il-ligi tal-koabitazzjoni nibdew insejhula l-Ligi tal-Ingarzati?