The laws of Belize make it difficult for married couples to get a divorce. They require applicants to first get a provisional divorce before going on a final decree.
The courts insist on having serious reasons for a divorce. It is not enough for one of the parties to claim that he or she wants to end the marriage because there are greener pastures to explore. If a man applies to the court for a divorce and subsequently has conjugal relations with his wife, the divorce application will be thrown out once the facts are known.

The Court takes the view that marriage, even a civil marriage, is a serious undertaking. It is also a legal contract, which can be undone, but only for good and sufficient reason. These include, but are not limited, to infedelity, mental or physical cruelty and serious incompatibility.

The Christian concept of marriage is that it is a solemn commitment between a man and a woman. It is an institution, a way of life, intended to last a lifetime -“till death do us part”. That is because there is a spiritual dimension to marriage and family life. Stable marriages are needed in every society to raise well-adjusted children, and for this reason marriage has become the pre-eminent pillar of stable family life.

In Belize the records show that fewer and fewer people are getting married these days and more and more couples want to call it quits. It is the signature mark of our age that men and women prefer to life together without the benefit of a formal commitment in what is generally called common-law marriage. There is no longer any stigma to this way of doing things.

Royalty and movie stars do it.
Statistics revealed at the recent opening of the Supreme Court show that there were 366 divorce petitions filed last year. Of these 344 were disposed of by the court. This shows that the number of divorce applications is growing, but it does not indicate that there is any backlog worth worrying about.

The view expressed by our new Attorney General Mr. Michael Peyrefitte, that it should be easier for married couples to obtain a divorce, is therefore puzzling.
Perhaps he is suggesting that judges of the Supreme Court should have something better to do than delving into the disordered lives of people who can’t get along. But making it easier or cheaper for people to get a divorce has serious implications for married life and indeed for our society.

Marriage is an institution approved by society – even primitive society – to bring stability and comfort to men and women and to their offspring through mutual love and respect. It is an arrangement which provides deep satisfaction and contentment to those who make it work. Without the commitment and endurance of marriage, promiscuity and self-indulgence would reign supreme.

We don’t think that this is what our new Attorney General wants for Belize. Regardless of what his personal experience may have been and despite the failure and debris of broken marriages, matrimony remains a deeply satisfying relationship for which there is no substitute.

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