Thursday 19 September 2019

Referendum on divorce to ease wait period for spouses will be held next May

Stock photo
Stock photo
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

A REFERENDUM which would ease the wait period for spouses who wish to divorce is due to be held next May.

The Government plans to hold the referendum on the same day as the local and European elections.

It is planned to changed the constitutional restriction which mandates that spouses must live apart for four years out of five.

The options under consideration are to reduce that period or remove the reference to a time limit from the Constitution.

However a final decision on the wording of the referendum will not be decided until Opposition parties are consulted and there is further discussion among ministers.

The referendum stems from legislation proposed in 2016 by Culture Minister Josepha Madigan, who is a family law solicitor.

That Private Members Bill proposed to halve the wait period to two years.

However, concern was raised during debate on that bill as to whether there should be any reference to a time limit in the Constitution.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan hopes to achieve a consensus on the wording of the referendum.

He will meet with the Justice spokespeople of Opposition parties tomorrow.

Detailed proposals will then be drawn up and brought to Cabinet in January.

It is also planned to hold plebiscites in Cork, Galway and Limerick on the subject of directly elected mayors and these could be held on the same day in May also.

A government spokesperson confirmed a planned referendum on affording presidential voting rights to the diaspora may also be held on that day, meaning voters in some parts of the country could be handed up to five ballot papers on polling day.

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