The four year waiting period for couples who are divorcing is “causing real financial and emotional pressure” at a “very stressful and uncertain time”, often “accelerating conflict between ex partners”.
This is the view of Green Party Galway City West candidate Pauline O’Reilly, who is calling for a Yes vote in the referendum on whether or not to ease the restrictions on divorce in the State. The vote will take place on May 24, the same day as the local and European elections.
Currently, the Constitution only permits divorce where certain conditions are met, including that the spouses have lived apart for four of the previous five years. The new proposals would reduce that to two years out of the previous three.
Other constitutional protections dealing with divorce would remain in place if the referendum is passed. These include the requirements that there be no prospect of reconciliation and that proper provision exists for spouses and children in the event of a divorce. If the referendum change is approved only a court will be entitled to grant a divorce under strict conditions.
The referendum will also ask voters if they want to change the constitutional position on foreign divorces. It will propose deleting the section of the Constitution which does not recognise a divorce registered outside the State, and replace it with wording to allow recognition of the “dissolution of a marriage granted under the civil law of another state.”
“The four year waiting period can sometimes accelerate conflict between ex partners,” said Ms O’Reilly, “and this has an impact on children. These couples are fully separated but cannot fully move on should they choose to do so. I would urge people to have their say on May 24.”