[WATCH] Cabinet to discuss divorce law changes on Wednesday

Removing the four-year wait before people can get a divorce will require a referendum but government is exploring a legal way of circumventing the need for a popular vote

Couples can only get a divorce in Malta after being separated for four years
Couples can only get a divorce in Malta after being separated for four years

Cabinet will meet on Wednesday to discuss changes to the divorce law, including the removal of a four-year obligatory waiting period before couples can proceed with a divorce, Robert Abela said.

The Prime Minister had already floated such a proposal some months ago and yesterday, PN leader Bernard Grech said the Opposition agreed with reforms that would do away with the four-year waiting period.

Grech was also critical of Abela: “The Prime Minister has already made two statements in which he said he wants to introduce amendments to the law - but these have only been words. Over a month later these statements have not produced anything concrete.”

Abela was asked on Monday whether he will press ahead with the changes given there was parliamentary consensus on the matter. 

The Prime Minister said he was surprised by Grech’s speech seeing that the reforms are hindered by a footnote to the original 2011 law which stated that any amendments would only be possible if approved in a referendum.

Abela hit back at Grech, who in 2011 was a vocal anti-divorce campaigner: "The footnote was included to satisfy the wishes of people like Bernard Grech who opposed divorce...  What needs to happen now, is for us to see if we can come up with a legal solution where we can amend the law without needing a referendum."

Abela said the four-year waiting period before people could get divorced was unjust and putting unnecessary strain on families.

Cabinet will be discussing a draft law on Wednesday to remove the waiting period.