Government ministers make plea to back referendum to make divorce easier

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Government ministers make plea to back referendum to make divorce easier


Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan, Director of Elections for the Referendum, Minister Josepha Madigan, Advocate Lisa Hughes at the launch of Fine Gael’s campaign for a yes vote to modernise divorce laws. The referendum will take place on Friday, 24th May – the same day as the Local and European Elections. Photo: Douglas O'Connor
Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan, Director of Elections for the Referendum, Minister Josepha Madigan, Advocate Lisa Hughes at the launch of Fine Gael’s campaign for a yes vote to modernise divorce laws. The referendum will take place on Friday, 24th May – the same day as the Local and European Elections. Photo: Douglas O’Connor

Two senior government ministers combined to make a plea to voters to back a referendum making divorce easier to get.

The referendum is being held on May 24 – the same day as local and European elections.  Its aim is to reduce the minimum time of separation before divorce can be granted from four years to two and also simplify procedures to recognise divorces obtained outside Ireland.

Culture Minister Josepha Madigan, who is a family law solicitor, spearheaded the moves for change.  She said the Government supported marriage – but needed to help people who had already decided to separate by reducing the financial and emotional strains.

Ms Madigan said the four-year delay put extra costs on separating couples in many cases obliging them to get a judicial separation and other court orders to help put their affairs in order.  A shorter time limit would reduce emotional pressure and spare on lawyers’ and court fees.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said the referendum had the support of all the Dáil parties and legislation for the change would follow quickly after the May 24 referendum vote.  “I have no doubt that this proposal will be supported countrywide.  It’s not an urban issue, not a rural issue, but one which concerns everyone as the sad fact is that people’s marriages do break down,” the Justice Minister said.

The two ministers were accompanied by Lisa Hughes who told of her experience in having to get both a judicial separation and a divorce.

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