Saturday 19 October 2019

Current divorce system is 'abstract and arbitrary'- 'Lawyers for Yes'

The divorce referendum will be held on Friday
Stock picture
The divorce referendum will be held on Friday Stock picture

Markus Krug

Divorces can take up to a total of five or six years to complete with the current waiting time, according to a group of lawyers campaigning for a “Yes” Vote on the upcoming Divorce Referendum.

The group, called Lawyers for Yes, put forward their argument for the constitutional change in an open letter ahead of Friday’s Referendum.

They are campaigning for the removal from the Constitution of the required time period for spouses to be living separately before divorce.

Additionally, they support the simplification of the recognition of foreign divorces and deem the current system too complex and outdated.

The coalition, made up of barristers, solicitors and law students, argued that the current four year time-span is too long for couples to wait before starting the process of divorce.

Catherine Forde BL, who was part of the original divorce campaign in 1995, said that the initiative "recognises that the prescriptive regulation of peoples’ day to day lives is a matter for the parliament and not for the Constitution."

According to Lawyers for Yes the current system causes emotional stress and trauma, an unnecessary prolonging of legal battles and unneeded legal costs.

Eilis Barry, FLAC Chief Executiv, called the current waiting times "abstract and arbitrary" and said it "does not reflect the current personal or societal need."

"It requires spouses including people experiencing domestic violence to remain married and prevents them from severing the ties for an extended period of time," he added.

The lawyers stressed that the Referendum would not abolish the need for a court to be satisfied with the provisions made for spouses and children.

They said that the current system is not taking into consideration the distress that the long time-span causes to everyone involved.

"The Divorce referendum proposal, if passed, will reduce the toll of a long divorce waiting period on the children of the marriage as well as the spouses," said Family Law Practitioner, Keith Walsh.

Similarly the courts still need to be satisfied that there is no reasonable prospect for reconciliation before the divorce can be granted to the spouses.

Lawyers for Yes argues that this relatively small change to the Constitution will reduce conflicts as well as financial and emotional costs.

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