The Dáil is to be asked to reduce the amount of time a couple needs to be separated before a divorce is granted from four years to two years.
According to a report in the Irish Times, Fine Gael TD Josepha Madigan plans to bring the private members bill to the Dáil next week, where it could be debated this autumn.
If the bill is passed, a referendum would be held, allowing the people to decide if the waiting time for divorce should be cut to 24 months.
The Fifteenth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland removed the constitutional prohibition of divorce in 1995. After it was approved by referendum on November 24, 1995 it was signed into law on June 17, 1996.
The way things stand, a court may only grant a dissolution of marriage where it is satisfied that, at the date of the institution of the proceedings, the spouses have lived apart from one another for a period of, or periods amounting to, at least four years during the previous five years.
Oddly, the Divorce Act isn’t clear on whether couples must live in different properties during that time, but it’s taken as a given that they must not be sharing a bed.
Even with the four-year separation rule, up to 60,000 people in Ireland are waiting to lodge applications for a divorce with the Circuit Court at any one time, so the wait can still be lengthy.
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