What's the problem?

As the divorce debate continues to rage and tempers begin to flare in the most humid rock of them all I decided to assume heroic responsibility and clear the matter once and for all. My first conclusion is what's the problem? In Malta we have divorce already. Instead it's called annulment - mhux xorta? I mean, what's in a name?

In case you did not know, the Marriage Act has a nice little section (19+19A) which specifically caters for the annulment of marriage. The idea is simple. Marriage is a contract and just as any other contract may be annulled on grounds that it was invalid, so too can marriage. Lets say for instance the good ol' chap goes up to the pretty lass and tells her "Listen, marry me or I'll knock your teeth in." Fearing for her teeth and all the Orbit she's been saving up for a bad breath day she has no other choice but to get married. All she has to do is wait three months, go to Court and tell the wise judge "Dude, my marriage is invalid because it was motivated by violence." Maybe a year or two later (patience please) you're bound to be marriage free! No Church involved or anything! Just a civil court judge in a civil court case! If he knocks her teeth out after marriage however, perhaps she should have thought twice about coming back home at 4 in the morning after a wild night out with her girl-friends now shouldn't she?

And it doesn't even have to be so dramatic. You can also get an annulment if your partner happens to have a severe case of Mr.Floppy and thus unable to perform the 'conjugal act' (again, the anomaly must have existed before you got married of course - if it happened after and sought annulment then you'd just be a sore loser). Oh, and if you're soooo into the whole divorce shenanigan you have a remedy as well (the law is so beautiful because it takes into consideration everybody's needs and feelings indiscriminately). Just take a holiday, a really really long holiday, say 10 years in some lovely Parisian suburb and get a divorce from there (stupid French people, why did they have to go through all the trouble to enact 'divorce'!?). You'd be killing two birds with one stone because you'd get to experience life in another country and procured for yourself a nifty divorce certificate recognizable here! Everyone can afford it can't they?

I beckon you to understand that annulment happens to be cheaper than divorce because with annulment you are only obliged to maintain your spouse for a maximum of 5 years whereas in divorce a silly judge may come up with the silly opinion that it may happen to be more, perhaps even for life "if circumstance so desires". Sheesh! What injustice!

To top things off I am aware that our Courts have been quite liberal in granting annulments over the years - since the worst and most brutal dictator of all Europe decided to defy the Church and introduce civil marriage in the 70's. It's only on rare occasions that some civil court judge happens to formulate his opinion on the basis of Canon Law (the law drafted by the Saints - not the football team - actual Saints with halos and all) even though the far less inferior and sinful 'laws of man' forbid him from doing so. But Malta is a secular country so you need not worry. As I said, its very rare.

Folks, take a chill pill and stop all this moaning. Its giving us a bad name! Malta has 'divorce' already!

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