After divorce, separation cases drop by one fifth

Highest rate of applications was filed in October 2011, amounting to 91.

An average of 48 applications was filed every month between then and September 2012, while an average of 31 divorces were granted.
An average of 48 applications was filed every month between then and September 2012, while an average of 31 divorces were granted.

One year after divorce was enacted by parliament, statistics reveal a significant drop in separation cases between October 2011 and September 2012 over the corresponding period the previous year.

According to information tabled in parliament, 2010 had seen the registration of 541 separations in the Public Registry. This significantly contrasts with the 139 separations terminated in the 11 months leading to September 2012. The figure also includes submissions that were either withdrawn or abandoned. The rate of applications for separations has also gone down, with 104 registered over the same period.

Over the same period, 571 divorce applications have been filed and 368 cases terminated. Only one divorce was denied.

According to official data provided by the Ministry for Justice, the highest rate of applications was filed in October 2011, amounting to 91.

During that same month, only one divorce was approved.

An average of 48 applications was filed every month between then and September 2012, while an average of 31 divorces were granted.

The highest rate of 93 divorces was granted in June. Last month, only one divorce was granted.

In the case of separations, there was a significant reduction between October 2011 and September 2012 when compared to 2010.

Divorce legislation came into force on October 1 after the referendum was held in May 2011.

The law grants divorce to couples that have been separated or living apart for the past four years in the last five years.

Before May 2011, few would have been bold enough to predict that divorce would be part of Malta's code of laws. Most predictions had in fact suggested the very opposite.

At a meeting of the IVA movement at the Fortina Hotel earlier in the campaign, Yes lobbyist Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando tried to put on a brave face before a small crowd of visibly dispirited supporters.

"I have no doubt that when it comes to the crunch, the Maltese will not deny the rights of others in need," he stoutly declared. But pessimism remained nonetheless palpable: not only at the Fortina meeting, but throughout the entire campaign.

And yet, all along there was mounting evidence of a gradual and largely unnoticed sea-change taking place in the background. Surveys began to reveal a consistent pattern pointing towards a narrow Yes victory; and from various other indications a new and arguably unexpected dimension slowly percolated into the argument.

Among those who claimed they personally disagreed with divorce, many were heard qualifying that they also felt they 'didn't have the right to impose their views on others'.

On Saturday 28 May 2011, almost three-quarters of the electorate went out to vote in the divorce referendum. The non-binding referendum passed with 53% in favour of divorce and 46% against.

According to a MaltaToday survey carried in December, the introduction of divorce emerged as the most positive thing that happened last year.

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