Referendum on divorce – Friday, 24th May 2019

Polling stations open from 7 am to 10 pm

Vote Yes

The case for change

If the referendum proposal passes, the Oireachtas will pass a law to reduce the separation period for couples that wish to divorce. This would mean that couples have to be separated for 2 out of the last 3 years instead of 4 out of the last 5 years.

We are urging people to vote YES to change on compassionate grounds to reduce the emotional and financial distress experienced on couples whose marriages have sadly broken down irretrievably.

What are we being asked to vote for in the referendum on May 24th?

  • We are being asked to amend Article 41.3.2° to remove the constitutional requirement that couples whose marriages are recognised by a Court to have broken down completely, be separated for four years out of the last five before beginning divorce proceedings. Instead the Oireachtas will introduce a law reducing that required separation period to two years out of the last three.
  • We are being asked to amend Article 41.3.3° so that there is a clear constitutional basis for the Oireachtas to legislate to introduce greater consistency in recognising divorces granted by Civil Courts in countries inside and outside the EU.

What will happen if a majority of people vote YES?

The Oireachtas will pass a new law to amend the Family Law (Divorce) Act 1996. This will mean that spouses applying for a divorce will need to prove to a Court that they have been separated for two years out of the last three (rather than four years out of the last five). The new draft law – the Family Law (Divorce) (Amendment) Bill 2019 – has been published on both the Government and the Opposition have agreed to this change.

The Minister for Justice and Equality will introduce a legal change to give greater consistency to the law on recognition of foreign divorces granted by Courts within and outside the European Union.

What will happen if a majority of people vote NO?

The Constitution will remain the same. Spouses will continue to have to prove to a Court that they have lived apart for four years out of the preceding five before they can begin divorce proceedings, which can take up to a further year.

They will continue to be caught in legal limbo, suffering emotional distress, for a prolonged period of time.

They will continue to accrue legal expenses if they try to regularise their affairs through a separation agreement or judicial separation while waiting to qualify for divorce.

The law governing recognition of foreign divorces will continue to be deeply complex and governed by a constitutional provision that dates back to 1937 – a time when the Constitution banned the right to divorce.