[WATCH] Today Debate on divorce

Excerpts from the Today Debate's proceedings on the question 'Will we be better off with divorce in Malta?'

Speakers are Dr Deborah Schembri, Ms Joyce Cassar, Ms Marlene Mizzi and Dr Austin Bencini.

20:51 The debate has ended.

Deborah Schembri says cohabitation, children born out of wedlock and to unknown fathers are increasing irrespective of whether there is divorce or not. "There is no cause-and-effect... the reality is that we have a rate of marital breakdowns and something must be done for these couples." She adds that the common good is not there to be decided by those who are in a steady marriage, but for everybody to be provided for, including those whose marriages have broken down.

Austin Bencini asks whether voters have all the information necessary to vote in this referendum; He also asks whether people who have had children out of wedlock, and who have never been married, should not be given a cohabitation that will regulate thyeir affairs.  "As a minority, shouldn't these people be given their law... divorce will increase the number of cohabiting people because it will reduce their faith in marriage."

20:40 Marlene Mizzi says a society where less people are cohabiting because they can remarry and have a legitimate marriage and family, is far more desirable.

20:35 Joyce Cassar says fatherlessness, as experienced in the UK, shows a link to child drug dependence and youth delinquency.

20:34 Concluding remarks

20:27 A member of the audience says her lawyer told her a court separation would have cost her some Lm3,000 in legal fees and would have left her with a small Lm50 monthly maintenance.

20:21 A member of the audience asks what sort of work is being made by the government to prepare people entering marriage and to stop marriages from breaking down.

20:18 Another member of the audience says he pays maintenance to his former spouse, is now living with his new partner and has a child form her. "I work three jobs because I have to maintain my first family, and my new one. I don't want an annulment because my marriage was a good one. So I have the right to form a new family recognised by civil law, so my partner doesn't have to leave the country (he says she is Ukranian) to revalidate her visa because she is not my wife."

20:16 Austin Bencini: Our law guarantees maintenance for separated spouses... but only in the first marriage; and even reduce the maintenance in the first marriage so that it can be paid to a second spouse (considering a second marriage that has broken down).

20:10 Joyce Cassar says that, in spite of her marriage problems [she is separated], she is trying to promote strong marriages but people who have happy marriages are supporting divorce.

20:07 Deborah Schembri, Joyce Cassar tell a member of the audience that in future, no referenda are required for amendments to the divorce law. Cassar adds that it would depend on the MPs inside parliament, and this could open the door to a shorter separation period before divorce is granted.

20:03 Austin Bencini: It's not the law that will solve many people's personal problems. It's human solidarity.

20:02 Austin Bencini says that voters must focus on what they are being called to vote upon. The referendum question will not lead to a law that will solve the problems in the family courts or of marriages in difficulty.

19:56 Deborah Schembri answers a question on whether adequate alimony will be guaranteed: Child and spouse maintenance is guaranteed between separated spouses, who are still married; in divorce, a couple does not stay married but the law as proposed still provides for this maintenance to be paid.

19:54 Joyce Cassar says it is impossible for each society to create a structure that solves problems for everyone.

19:51 We're taking some questions which were posted on Facebook and the online comment boards.

19:48 Deborah Schembri: Church annulments take too long and divorce allows such situations to be remedied by not having to go through such long proceedings.

19:42 Austin Bencini: We must be careful throughout this referendum... there are people who are in courts over separation proceedings... But the solution to people's suffering is because of our courts' inefficiencies, but divorce does not provide a solution.

19:36 Another man who is separated has addressed Dr Austin Bencini, and stated that separated couples cannot keep on 'suffering' in civil and ecclesiastical courts - he says his lawyer has no warrant to appear in the ecclesiastical court so he must appoint another lawyer to appear for him in the Church tribunal (which handle marriage annulments and are superior to the Maltese courts on annulment proceedings).

19:33 Joyce Cassar: We have to see the impact of a new mindset that will influence people once divorce is introduced.

19:30 Deborah Schembri: Our law has something missing, and its allowing people to remarry once they separate.

19:26 Austin Bencini answers: Divorce is not the solution to every social difficulty that marriage might bring. Today civil law does make any difference between children born in or out of wedlock.

19:24 Joyce Cassar answers: I empathise with you, I know what it feels like being separated. Today I am single, but don't think I speak without empathy for who is suffering. What I'm saying is that had we been talking on a different form of divorce, I would have spoken in favour of those who have the right not to be in an unhappy marriage.

19:23 A member of the audience says he is separated and is a single parent, and that his wife left him for somebody else. "Have I the right to marry a woman I meet like other people? I know what I've passed from, but you - pointing at Joyce Cassar and Austin Bencini - look happy."

19:16 Marlene Mizzi and Austin Bencini in a spat now over Mizzi's quoting of what the 'common good' was from a document, which she later revealed was the German Nazi party's statute from the 1930s... Bencini said "this is not the place to bring in Nazism."

19:12 Joyce Cassar "I object to no-fault divorce... I object to the possibility that somebody married 20 years can leave their spouse for somebody else. Is this a 'state of fact' that must be legislated?"

19:00 Questions from the floor

19:00 "People should vote in the referendum and not cede to the intimidatory climate... we must vote to protect our national values."

18:58 "The state should not promote the breakdown of the family. Whoever manages to obtain a divorce abroad does not get rubber-stamped by the Maltese courts... a court does not necessarily accept the divorce."

18:56 “Malta should be proud of its stand on divorce."

We lost some comments on the live blog because we lost our internet connection.

18:55 “As a democratic person, even though I am a Catholic, my faith represents the fundamental rights of the human being. The family is recognised as one such right recognised in international conventions and the Maltese Constitution. Divorce is not.”

18:55 Austin Bencini – Moviment Zwieg bla Divorzju

18:49 “Why we don’t do some real research into why marriages are breaking down. The Church is doing its own work to prepare people for marriages... but what is the government doing about preparing people for marriage.”

18:48 “I wonder where all the people against divorce were back in 1975 when the Maltese government introduced civil marriage

18:47 “I have great faith in the values of the Maltese, that they are not fickle, that people don’t just buy into the ‘divorcist mentality’, and that they are more positive about marriage.”

18:46 “Marital breakdown is a trauma for everybody, parents and spouses’ parents included.” 18:39 Marlene Mizzi - Moviment IVA

18:39 "Can anyone tell me what the link is between divorce and marital breakdown when Malta has 20% of broken-down marriages without even having divorce. We have proven there is no link between divorce and marital breakdown."

18:39 Marlene Mizzi - Moviment IVA

18:35 "How are we to deal with minorities? For example, abortion - I don't mean that the two are not linked, but you can have women who say they don't want another child... for example same-sex marriage, isn't this another minority? Shall we defend these minorities?"

18:34 "Introducing divorce introduces a mindset for people to leave their spouses... for example, by encouraging infidelity."

18:33 "We don't talk of cases where husbands meet women and leave their wives, and this divorce being proposed does not cater for such cases where there is this kind of fault in the separation."

18:29 "We must tell people the reality that in the near future divorce can be introduced and legally changed by MPs to have separated people divorce after six months. This is things happened in other countries, from fault to no-fault divorce."

18:29 "Infidelity and extra-marital sex amongst the main reasons that lead to divorce, foreign studies show."

18:27 "We don't allow people to just do things that might be 'wrong'... we make an impact assessment. If anything, divorce provides a legal solution but not a solution to a person's problems or his marital breakdown. The suffering of rejection will not be forgotten."

18:27 Joyce Cassar - Moviment Zwieg Bla Divorzju

18:25 "We want remarriage to be an option, to promote marriage and not cohabitation 'imposed' by the government. Remarriage requires divorce."

18:23 "Who are we to deny the right to divorce and remarry to those people whose marriages have broken down, to enter more stable relationships?"

18:22"If a marriage is broken, and as a state of fact this marriage no longer exists, then this fact must be acknowledged."

18:20"We're in favour of marriage... if divorce will weaken any more marriages than are already broken, I don't see how divorce applies for strong marriages."

18:18 "The marked difference between divorce and separation is that divorce allows your the right to remarriage, which does not exist right now for separated couples."

18:18 Dr Deborah Schembri - Moviment IVA

More in Divorce Referendum
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There are two ways of looking at it: Viewpoint 1: Quote "divorce will increase the number of cohabiting people because it will reduce their faith in marriage" Viewpoint 2: Divorce will decrease the number of cohabiting people who do not dream of getting married without a way out in case of unhappy failure. Most cases of Divorce are created by serious financial stress leading to conflict between couples due to their not being able to spend any money or enough money on necessary re-creation. The best thing Malta could do to reduce the rate of divorce is to improve the "income vs cost of living" ratio.
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Austin bencini qed jghix fis shab. Jghid li hrafa li 90% taz zwiegijiet f'Malta huma b'sahhithom u fl-istess hin jghid li Malta dejjem zammet soda it tradizzjonijiet tal familja. Meta wiehed mill mizzewwgin ifettillu jkisser iz zwieg ikun ghal xejn li l-parti l-ohra tipprova ssewwi jekk il partner ma jkunx irid jisma. Mela dan xi zwieg hu? Prosit lil Marlaene Mizzi u l-mod semplici kif spjegat il puzizzjoni tal muviment.
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Mattew....Hellllo....why did you remove (edited out) or did not insert the public intervents? Why? Answer please...
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why did you remove all the posts? we just listen to what they say only? well i don't care what they say- I believe that all maltese citizens knows what is good for them. and it's our right to choose how we live. no one can tell another one what to do or not what to do. also i am wasting my time here wriiting. I have my vote and will go and vote when the time comes, that comes. i don't care what the goverment or any institutions says. RESIST OR SERVE!