Divorce will regulate those without rights - IVA chairperson

“With or without divorce, marriages are breaking down, children are born out of wedlock and couples are cohabiting” - Moviment Iva ghad-Divorzju chairperson Deborah Schembri.

In the second BA televised debate, which saw Schembri answering to questions by six journalists from different media organisations, the Moviment Iva chairperson said these were realities Malta was living through “notwithstanding the introduction of divorce.”

She argued that on an international level, cohabiting couples were increasing and reminded that one third of the children in Malta were born to unmarried couples.

“We have to be careful not to blame divorce. These are growing trends, irrespective of what law we have in Malta. Divorce is simply a declaration of the state of fact that a marriage has ended,” Schembri reiterated.

She said that divorce will only affect the civil camp. “A person either marries in Church and civilly, or civilly only. Divorce will only affect civil marriages, whilst those of the Church will remain valid.”

Schembri reiterated that the proposed divorce is a conservative one, based on a conservative law.

“I believe the Maltese have a clear choice in front of them. This divorce will give a new lease of life to those who want to start over, based on commitment and regulated by law with mutual rights and duties.”

Referring to arguments made by Moviment Zwieg bla Divorzju that divorce will bring about “a new wave of poverty”, Schembri argued one has to look at the real picture: “Nowadays we already have families breaking up and forming their second family. They still pay alimony for their first family, but are also maintaining their second family.”

She also rubbished claims by the same movement that 80 men last year opted to go to jail rather than pay alimony. “If the settlement of their cases states that the men have to pay maintenance, then they have to pay their dues even if they go to prison.”

Schembri said the introduction of divorce will regulate the second’s partner position and put the children from the second family on the same level as those from the first marriage. She said that as the law stands today, if in the second relationship the man decides to just up and leave, the ‘second’ woman will be left with nothing.

“The law will always protect children, no matter what relationship they are born into. However, there is nothing which protects the woman in the event that her partner is separated.”

Asked whether the movement’s call to see the publishing of the cohabitation draft law would confuse the voters, Schembri answered it is the complete opposite: those who are against divorce are proposing cohabitation as an alternative.

“But I have my reservations on whether the cohabitation law will apply to those who are separated,” Schembri said. She added that a cohabitation law without the introduction of divorce would clash with the existing law.

Schembri explained that when a couple gets married, one of the things they promise each other is fidelity. “If they separate, the promise of fidelity still holds since in the eye of the state the two are still married. So if one of them starts a new relationship, he or she will still be breaking that promise.”

She added that “in one breath”, the law would be giving a couple the right to cohabit but - without divorce – the law would still demand that they show fidelity to their first husband or wife.

“And if the ties are not broken [with divorce] the state will be giving space for bigamy – an ongoing relationship, now regularised by the cohabitation law, whilst still married,” she said.

Schembri added that cohabitation “is the closest thing to marriage separated couples have”.

Schembri also rebutted claims that divorce would be imposed on the party who does not want to divorce.

“This already happens nowadays with both annulment and separation. It takes one party to call off a marriage and for the law to accept it.”

She reiterated that the difference between separation and divorce is that the latter offers the opportunity to remarry if one opts to do so.

No civil divorce will not affect church marriages because the contract you signed at the alter is for life and cannot be revoked. With divorce you will be able to revoke the CIVIL contract that you signed in the sacristy.
Last night I watched Dr. Schembri on TVM and in my openion she was was brilliant. She answered all the questions in a fantastic way and to he point. Some of the journalists were patetic, they seemed that they know nothing about the law of seperation.Thanks Dr. Schembri for the useful information. I am going to Vote YES. Why not .Well done Dr. Schembri.
rajt ilprogramm u ma qbadtx x'hemm tajjeb fiha din il-ligi specjalment ghal min ser tigi introdotta u fiex ser inkunu ahjar...naturalment min ghandu bzonna... Nixtieq nistaqsi issa li dalwaqt ghandna nghidu taghna bil-vot...kemm hemm nies li fir-realta u bhalissa ihossu l-bzonn li jergghu jizzewgu??? Qed nistaqsi ghax inhoss li din l-energija nistghu nibghu ghaddejjin biha biex inkunu nistghu nsahhu s-socjeta bi zwieg dejjiemi u b'taghlim halli dan iz-zwieq jissahhah u mhux nghidu falla u daqshekk.. Min jivvota iva qed jghid b'mod car zwieg li falla daqshekk u mhux qed jghid bhal ma nghid jien...irrid nibqa nipprova sakemm nirnexxi.... u jekk ikun hemm it-taghlim, kull ostaklu jista jinteghleb.. u ghal dawk li jemmnu bit-talb kollox hu possibli.
Read carefully between the lines.........here's the catch:- “A person either marries in Church and civilly, or civilly only. Divorce will only affect civil marriages, whilst those of the Church will remain valid.” So all (existing and) future couples who wish to marry in Church (zwieg Nisrani) will stil have the option to divorce. So Dr Schembri is clearly stating to everyone that yes, divorce will effect Church Marriages, not just civil marriages. Dr Schembri you can never be right on this one! I'm sorry. This is a state of fact not my opinion. I would have been wrong if one could also marry in Church only..........
Prosit Deborah! Clear and concise as usual. For more clear and concise info on divorce log on: http://mazzun.wordpress.com/2011/05/17/l-isqof-grech-jaf-xinhu-jaghmel/