Minister Flanagan and Minister Madigan welcome passage of the

Thirty-eighth Amendment of the Constitution (Dissolution of Marriage) Bill 2016 by the Seanad

 

 

11 April 2019

  

The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD, and the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan TD, have welcomed the passage of the Thirty-eighth Amendment of the Constitution (Dissolution of Marriage) Bill 2016 through the Seanad.  The Bill has now been passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas without opposition.

 

The path is now cleared for a referendum on 24 May, the same day as the Local and European Parliament elections.  In the referendum, the people will be asked to agree to remove the provision in the Constitution on the minimum living apart period for spouses seeking a divorce and to modernise the constitutional clause on recognition of foreign divorces.  The constitutional protections in respect of proper provision for spouses and children, no reasonable prospect of reconciliation and the role of the Court will remain.  Minister Flanagan has consulted with all parties in the Oireachtas and secured cross-party support for a proposal to legislate for a separation period of two out of the three proceeding years.  A draft Bill, which the Minister will introduce if the referendum passes, has been published.

 

Minister Flanagan said: “I am pleased that the Government’s proposal has received such widespread support in the Oireachtas.  The cross-party support is testament to the fact that the proposal is a reasonable and fair one.  It is fundamentally a proposal to ease the burden on people whose marriages have broken down. 

 

“The current constitutional provisions mean that couples have to be separated for at least four years before they can begin divorce proceedings.  That means that, alongside the emotional trauma this engenders, many couples also go through the stress and expense of a separation agreement or judicial separation while waiting to be allowed to begin divorce proceedings.  We have a low divorce rate and that is very welcome but where couples wish to divorce, they are being left for too long in a legal limbo.”  

 

Minister Madigan, who originally introduced the Bill before her appointment to Cabinet said: “I am delighted that this Bill, which I introduced from the backbenches, has now been passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas.  Since the Bill was passed by the Dáil last week, I have received widespread positive feedback from couples who are anxious for change and for a more humane law governing divorce.  Marriage breakdown is a sad reality for some people in this country and it affects people in every county.  The changes Minister Flanagan and I are seeking are motivated by compassion and informed by our experience as solicitors dealing with family law cases.

 

ENDS

 

 

Note to Editors:

 

 

  1. Amend Article 41.3.2 of the Constitution to remove the minimum living apart period for spouses seeking a divorce; and
  2. Replace the current text of Article 41.3.3 with a provision to allow the Oireachtas to legislate for the recognition under the law of the State of a divorce granted under the civil law of another state.