Should Ireland make divorce easier?

The Irish will vote on 24 May on whether the country's divorce laws should be liberalised. The constitution currently stipulates that married couples must live apart for at least four years before they can file for divorce. Commentators are at odds over the consequences a liberalisation of the current laws would have.

Open/close all quotes
The Irish Times (IE) /

Forced waiting period is bad for families

The current legal situation blocks people from a second chance of happiness for too long, The Irish Times believes:

“The most difficult stage for separating couples is for both to recognise that their relationship is irreconcilably broken and this often takes one partner longer than another. For couples without children, a long period of separation before 'moving on' is not ideal. The women involved may find a new partner and want to have children within a legal context of marriage. In these cases, every year can matter a lot. For others the current lengthy period of separation required before divorce may promote reluctance for separated couples to tidy up their legal affairs.”

The Irish Independent (IE) /

Liberalisation leads to more separations

The Irish Independent, on the other hand, warns against making it easier to get a divorce:

“Although an enforced period of reflection might seem like a heavy-handed attempt to try to encourage deeper thought, there is significant value found in slowing down when you wish to speed up. … Currently, many liberal countries make it very easy to get a divorce - in Denmark it costs approximately 60 euros and it can be signed, sealed and delivered within a few months. Although this might seem attractive to anyone who is withering under the compulsory four-year restriction in Ireland, it must be noted that Denmark has the highest divorce rate in Europe and, with nearly half of all Danish marriages failing, this doesn't seem like such a great result for anyone.”