Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

20.00 23 Oct 2019


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The bill implementing the changes approved in the divorce referendum earlier this year has passed through all stages of the Oireachtas.

In May, 82% of voters backed the proposed changes - including reducing the minimum 'living apart' period for couples looking for a divorce to two of the previous three years.

Existing divorce laws require couples to have lived apart for four out of the previous five years.

The Family Law Bill 2019 to implement the change has now passed all stages, and will go to the President to be signed into law.

The new law also aims to ensure the recognition of divorces, legal separations and marriage annulments granted in the UK if a no-deal Brexit happens.

It will also offer more clarity on the meaning of the 'living apart' requirement.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan today said he was pleased TDs and senators had passed the new laws.

He said: "At the heart of the Government’s reforms in this area of the law is a desire to ease the burden on people whose marriages have broken down.

"This legislation will ensure that the process for obtaining a divorce is fair, dignified and humane.

"While core protections for marriage continue to remain in our Constitution, this Bill allows both parties to move forward with their lives within a reasonable timeframe."

Culture Minister Josepha Madigan had advocated for the changes to divorce laws in recent years.

Reacting to the passage of the bill today, Minister Madigan said shorter waiting times were "badly needed in order to take people out of legal limbo, protracted matrimonial litigation and thereby lessen the emotional and financial costs of marital breakdown".

Main image: File photo of a ballot paper for the divorce referendum in May 2019. Photo: Sam Boal /Rollingnews.ie

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