[WATCH] Robert Abela hints at changes to divorce law

Prime Minister tells Labour women’s forum it is time to reduce the four-year period between separation and divorce

Robert Abela has hinted at changes to reduce the four-year period between separation and divorce introduced nine years ago when divorce became legal
Robert Abela has hinted at changes to reduce the four-year period between separation and divorce introduced nine years ago when divorce became legal

Couples seeking a divorce cannot do so before four years of separation but this legal limitation may be reduced Prime Minister Robert Abela has hinted.

The limitation introduced as a compromise when divorce became legal nine years ago has caused “needless suffering” to couple, Abela told a gathering of the Labour Party’s women forum, Nisa Laburisti.

Speaking from personal experience as a lawyer, Abela said that after nine years the time is ripe to revise the divorce law.

He said Equality Parliamentary Secretary Rosianne Cutajar was working on the matter. However, Abela did not commit on whether the limitation should be removed outright or reduced.

When divorce legislation was introduced in 2011, parliament agreed to include a clause that any changes approved by MPs to the essential elements of the divorce law will only come into force after a referendum approves them. The four-year window between separation and divorce was one of the central elements that people had voted upon in the divorce referendum of 2011.

Prostitution

Abela also raised the issue of decriminalising prostitution, which he said had dragged on for too long.
“Many people have passed through social problems and saw prostitution as an opportunity to make money. I have always asked myself what sense does it make to throw these people in jail when they are living difficult social realities,” Abela said.

He insisted government had no intention of legalising brothels or creating a sex industry but added the government could not ignore social problems.

He said the discussion was still open as to whether the country should opt for depenalisation or decriminalisation of prostitution but insisted that prostitutes must not be sent to prison.

Surrogacy

Abela used his speech to also raise the abandoned debate on surrogacy. The issue had been left out of the changes enacted to the IVF law two years ago following widespread concern.

“I know there are ethical and legal concerns but it is time to discuss this subject again and take the necessary decisions,” he said, encouraging Labour members to get out of their comfort zone.

“One of our missions is to be the voice of the voiceless,” Abela said, recalling a discussion he had had with a woman who kept losing her children during pregnancy.

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