Divorce law to be brought into effect from Sunday



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 will be commenced on Sunday.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan today announced that he has signed a commencement order to bring Parts 1 and 2 of the Family Law Act 2019 into effect from 1 December 2019.

The law was 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.

Since the bill became law in October, the Department of Justice has been working with the Courts Service to ensure the relevant provisions of the Act can become operational in December.

Mr Flanagan said: “I am very pleased to announce I have signed the commencement order of key elements of the Family Law Act 2019.

“From 1 December 2019, the financial and emotional burden caused by the previous living apart requirements will be reduced. This will ensure that the process for obtaining a divorce is fair, dignified and humane.

“This commencement of the Act now allows both parties to move forward with their lives within a reasonable timeframe, while ensuring core protections for marriage continue to remain in our Constitution.”

The provisions of the Family Law Act 2019 which are being commenced from 1 December are:

  1. Part 1, which is a commencement provision.
  2. Part 2, which makes a number of amendments to existing laws in relation to divorce in Ireland. In particular:
    • It amends Section 5 of the Family Law (Divorce) Act 1996 to reduce the minimum living apart period specified in that Act to two years during the previous three years (from four years during the previous five years).
    • It gives statutory certainty to the interpretation by the Irish courts of the requirement for spouses to have lived apart for specified periods in order to be eligible to apply for judicial separation or divorce. A corresponding provision will deal with dissolution of civil partnerships.

The minister is not currently commencing Part 3, which provides for the recognition of UK divorces, separations and annulments in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Mr Flanagan concluded: “In May, the people of Ireland voted for reform. The commencement of the Family Law Act delivers that reform, which I expect to make an important and meaningful difference to people’s lives.

“I would like to once again thank Minister Madigan for bringing forward her private nember’s bill on divorce, as it served as a starting point for the debate which led to these major changes. I would also like to acknowledge the support provided by all parties in progressing this Bill through the Oireachtas.”



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