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Ireland to consider halving divorce time

An Irish politician has proposed cutting the waiting period before divorce proceedings in half.

Currently, Irish law states that couples cannot apply for a divorce until they have been separated for four years. This rule seeks to encourage married couples to work on their relationship instead of ending them quickly.

Josepha Madigan is a member of Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Irish Parliament. Next week, she will introduce a bill to cut that time to two years. But her proposal would not alter any of the other conditions required to divorce.

Writing for the Irish Times, she said that the four year wait was “cumbersome, draconian and downright awkward for those stuck in limbo between separation and divorce”. The end of a marriage is always difficult, she argued, so “why make it any more difficult?”

A lengthy divorce dispute “only serves to increase hostility between a couple” and it is usually the children who end up suffering for it, she wrote.

Ms Madigan claimed that the country had a marriage breakdown rate of only 9.7 per cent and wrote that she did “not expect that to change if this Bill is passed”.

According to the 2011 Census, around 246,000 separated couples in Ireland are “stuck in limbo” as a result of the four year rule and her proposed law would give them the attention and support they need.

The length of time required before a couple can begin divorce proceedings varies from country to country. In Germany the wait is between one and three years and in Canada it is two. Like Ireland, couples in Malta have to wait four years before they are eligible to divorce.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Andrew says:

    A wise politician – rarer than the semen of a female unicorn as my father used to say. But I still believe that when either party is willing to sign an official form and pay a fee saying that a marriage has gone the way of John Cleese’s parrot – and confirms it three months later – that’s it, curtains, give them the divorce and sort out the financials. Preferably according to the cast iron prenup they signed before the cake and the confetti but that of course is a whole other argument!

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