Members of the Irish Parliament have declared their support for a bill to reduce the amount of time required for divorce.
Under the rules set out by the Irish Constitution, married couples must have lived apart for four out of the previous five years before they can begin divorce proceedings. A member of the Dáil Éireann (the lower house of Parliament) has called this rule “punitive” and introduced a bill to cut the wait in half to two years.
Josepha Madigan is a TD (Teachta Dála, or member of the Irish Parliament) representing the Christian democratic party Fine Gael and a former family law solicitor. She told her colleagues that she wanted “separated couples to be treated fairly and humanely” under the law.
Madigan noted the changes in family law that Ireland has seen over the last few years, citing the fact that marriage rights have been “extended to same sex couples in a very positive and cross-party supported referendum”. It was now time “to look at our separated brothers and sisters and examine whether the law could be changed” she insisted.
She has been trying to make this change for some time. Last year, she wrote an article for the Irish Times in which she called the four year wait “cumbersome, draconian and downright awkward” for everyone involved.
Her proposed measure has received support from the TDs of several political parties. These include Jim O’Callaghan, the Justice spokesman for the republican Fianna Fáil party. He called Madigan’s proposal “sensible” and said it should be implemented sooner rather than later. Members of Sinn Féin, the Social Democrats and Solidarity-AAA have also backed a change in the law.
Additionally, Junior Justice Minister David Stanton has pledged the government’s support for Madigan’s bill, declaring they were “open to proposing the removal of all the conditions for the granting of a divorce set out under Article 41.32 of the Constitution”. If this part of the document is done away with, divorce regulations would be set by the Oireachtas (Parliament) in future.
Photo of Leinster House, seat of the Irish Parliament, by Sean MacEntee via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.