Oireachtas approves bill to reduce minimum living apart period before divorce



Legislation to reduce the minimum period that couples seeking a divorce are required to live apart has passed all stages in the Oireachtas.

The Family Law Bill 2019 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.

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.

Speaking after the bill was passed by the Seanad last night, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said: “I am very pleased that the Family Law Bill 2019 has now been passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas. At the heart of the Government’s reforms in this area of the law is a desire to ease the burden on people whose marriages have broken down.

“In May, the people voted by a large majority to remove the minimum living apart period for spouses seeking a divorce from Article 41.3.2 of the Constitution; and to replace the text of Article 41.3.3 on foreign divorces.”

Mr Flanagan added: “The bill will reduce the emotional and financial distress experienced by couples whose marriages have sadly broken down. This legislation will ensure that the process for obtaining a divorce is fair, dignified and humane.

“While core protections for marriage continue to remain in our Constitution, this bill allows both parties to move forward with their lives within a reasonable timeframe. The people voted for reform. The passing of the Family Law Bill today delivers that reform.”



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