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Malta citizens vote to legalize divorce

As our country wrestles with same-sex marriage and related issues, it seems antiquated and almost unbelievable that there are other nations still grappling with the concept of divorce. However, that is the case with Malta, a small European nation that voted just this week to legalize divorce in the country.

In Nevada and throughout the United States, divorce has become somewhat of an institution, with approximately half of all marriages ending in separation at any given time. Further, divorce has lost much of its stigma over the past 50 to 60 years, becoming somewhat of a regular occurrence among circles – very few people do not know someone who has been divorced.

However, to contrast our accepting take on divorce, the nation of Malta, which is largely and historically Catholic, has resisted legalizing divorce for several decades, forcing Malta residents to travel to nearby countries in order to legally split from their spouses. As a result, very few Malta residents have divorced one another – only 785 couples have successfully sought divorces in the past 30 years, with numbers increasing from seven divorces in 1981 to a record 47 in 2010.

Therefore, members of the Malta Parliament worked to legalize divorce in their country, finally agreeing to put the issue up to a public vote. In May, 53 percent of Malta residents voted for the legalization of divorce in a special referendum, and earlier this week, Parliament enacted a law officially allowing divorce in the country. The new law is set to take effect in October, after the president of Malta signs it into law.

It will be interesting to see divorce patterns and rates in Malta during the first few months and years of legal divorce. We will update our blog with any pertinent data.

Source: Las Vegas Sun, “Malta finally allows divorce following vote,” 25 July 2011

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