Sunday 21 January 2018

TDs back plan to cut wait for divorce to two years

Fine Gael TD Josepha Madigan Picture: Gerry Mooney
Fine Gael TD Josepha Madigan Picture: Gerry Mooney
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

There has been cross-party support for a Fine Gael proposal to slash the waiting time for divorce from four years to two.

A bill tabled by Dublin-Rathdown deputy Josepha Madigan will now be sent to the Oireachtas Justice Committee for consideration after it received significant backing from TDs.

Under the Constitution, married couples must prove they have been separated for four years before they qualify for divorce.

If Ms Madigan's bill is passed, the Government would be required to begin the process for a referendum to be held on whether the term should be cut to two.

Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil's Justice spokesperson Jim O'Callaghan were among those who spoke out in favour of the bill.

Ms Madigan, who is a family law solicitor, said the measures will bring Ireland closer in line with other countries that have much shorter waiting periods.

"In marriage we promise ourselves to another 'till death do us part'. This solemn vow reflects an ideal; the steady love and companionship of marriage that many of us hope to enjoy for the duration of our time on this Earth," Ms Madigan told the Dáil.

"But sadly, for many couples, this ideal is not reflected in reality. Many marriages do break down and have always done so.

"For too long Irish society was unwilling to face up to this reality. Marital breakdown was often judged harshly.

"The sad reality that many marriages do not last was too often ignored and neglected".

Speaking during yesterday's debate, Junior Minister David Stanton said the Government would be supporting the bill.

"As a further step, the Government is of the view that it should at this stage be open to proposing the removal of all the conditions for the granting of a divorce set out under Article 41.32 of the Constitution," Mr Stanton said.

Irish Independent

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