Global divorce rates are higher than they’ve ever been before — in the United States, around 40% to 50% of married couples end up getting divorced. Unfortunately, many countries have strict laws that make finalizing a divorce difficult. But the Republic of Ireland has officially voted to lessen divorce laws.
Under current divorce laws, there is a clause that states couples looking to get a divorce must be separated for four of the five previous years to be granted a divorce. A recent referendum saw 82.1% of voters wanted to remove this clause, making getting a divorce significantly easier as lawmakers will decide on an updated separation period.
Charlie Flanagan, Minister for Justice and Equality, tweeted after the vote saying the majority support for the change in law was “very positive news.”
In his tweet, Flanagan wrote, “I intend moving speedily with legislation to cut waiting time and thereby reduce upset and trauma on couples and children where marriages have irreconcilably broken down.”
According to Flanagan, the government announced previous plans to change the law so that couples only have to live apart for two years before having a divorced finalized. This time period is required for all couples filing for divorce with no exceptions as of now.
Despite the decreased waiting period, many people still feel like the wait time is unfair — people argue that having to wait that long increases anxiety, adds to financial troubles, and even prevents separated couples from moving on.
With a heavy Catholic influence, Ireland has struggled in the past with strict laws. In fact, divorce was not legalized until 1995 by a very small majority of votes. It was first banned in 1937 by the Catholic hierarchy. In a 1986 referendum, voters attempted to lift the ban but failed. And then when it was finally legalized, the strict separation time period was put into place.
But with millions of residents, 495,781 residents living in Dublin alone, the country is slowly but surely actively making changes to become more progressive. Ireland was the first country to legalize same-sex marriage in 2015 and the country began offering abortion services for the first time following the 2018 vote.
So while there are certainly Christan groups who oppose the changing of current divorce laws and the Catholic hierarchy has expressed concerns, many Ireland residents are excited to see more changes in not only divorce laws, but regarding climate change, health, and other issues as well.