Divorce referendum Bill goes to President to be signed

Legislation allowing a referendum to take place on eliminating the waiting period for divorce from the constitution has been passed by the Seanad.

As the Thirty-eighth Amendment of the Constitution (Dissolution of Marriage) Bill was passed by the Dáil last week, it now goes to the President to be signed into law.

The debate in the Seanad centred on a proposal by Senator Lynn Ruane, that the referendum should also delete two other restrictions on divorce, namely, that there be no prospect of reconciliation between the spouses; and that proper financial provision be made for spouses, children and dependants. Senator Ivana Bacik further expressed a preference that the waiting period in subsequent legislation might be reduced to one year “in keeping with EU norms” rather than two.

Minister Flanagan responded by saying he didn’t want to complicate matters for the electorate and so wanted to focus solely on the time requirement and the recognition of foreign divorces. Regarding the ‘no prospect of reconciliation’ clause, he assured the senators that it is viewed merely as a “formal proof” to be satisfied and is therefore “unlikely to impede any significant number of persons in bringing applications for divorce.”