Ireland divorce referendum results in a 'Yes' vote - Marcia Mediation

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Ireland has said ‘yes’ to relaxed divorce laws, making it easier to get divorced in Ireland and possible for divorces granted in other jurisdictions to be recognised in Ireland too.

The Ireland divorce referendum results followed nationwide voting on May 24th, with 82.1% of valid votes cast in favour of the proposals.

On May 26th, Justice and Equality Minister Charlie Flanagan TD welcomed the result, calling it “testament to the compassion and fairness of Irish people”.


What were the Irish divorce proposals?

The referendum was to gauge public opinion on proposals to relax the rules on divorce in Ireland.

Previously, divorce could only be granted to couples who had lived separately for at least four of the preceding five years at the time of instituting divorce proceedings.

The proposals also remove a subsection from Ireland’s Constitution that prevents divorces granted by other countries from being recognised within Ireland during the lifetime of both parties.


What are the new rules on divorce in Ireland?

The new rules on divorce in Ireland need to be legalised, but a Bill is now in the works to introduce a new minimum separation period of two years in the preceding three.

Further legislation will also be proposed to allow foreign divorces to be recognised within Ireland.

Minister Flanagan said: “The [Irish] Government wants to ensure that the process for obtaining a divorce is fair, dignified and humane, and allows both parties to move forward with their lives within a reasonable timeframe.”


What protections remain in place?

Relaxing the Irish divorce laws does not mean removing the fundamental protections that are in place when couples divorce, including:

  • Adequate provision for both spouses, their children and dependants.
  • There must be no reasonable expectation of reconciliation.
  • Divorce may only be granted by a court.

These protections remain in Article 41.3.2 of the Irish Constitution and will not be changed by any new legislation to be introduced in response to this referendum.


What happens next?

Legislation must be introduced to formalise the changes. This is expected to closely match the draft General Scheme of the Family Law (Divorce) (Amendment) Bill that was announced on March 26th.

The new version of the Bill will be drafted “as soon as possible” with publication due by autumn 2019, ready to gain Parliamentary assent and ultimately to become Irish law.