Bill to reduce minimum living apart period before divorce published

Legislation to reduce the requirement for spouses to live apart for a minimum of four years out of the preceding five before they can be granted a divorce has been published.

The Family Law Bill 2019 reduces the minimum living apart period specified in the Family Law (Divorce) Act 1996 to two years during the previous three years.

The bill has been introduced following the May referendum in which the Government’s proposal to amend Articles 41.3.2 and 41.3.3 of the Constitution to allow the Oireachtas to legislate on the matter was approved by 82.1 per cent of voters.

As well as reducing the minimum living apart period, the bill sets out arrangements for the recognition of divorces, legal separations and marriage annulments granted in the United Kingdom, in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said: “I hope that this Bill will be enacted before 31 October, so that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the provisions on recognition of UK divorces, legal separations and marriage annulments can be commenced with effect from the date the UK withdraws from the EU.

“This will ensure a seamless transition from the arrangements under the EU regulation that currently applies in this area to the new recognition arrangements set out in the Bill.”

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