Referendum on the Regulation of Divorce – 24th May 2019

John A Sinnott Solicitors, referendum

On May 24th, we will be asked to vote on a proposal to change the Constitution of Ireland in relation to divorce.

The proposal is about two issues relating to divorce:

(1) how long people must be living apart before applying for a divorce

(2) the recognition of foreign divorces.

There will be one question on the ballot paper and voters can either vote Yes to allow both changes, or No to reject both changes. Voters cannot accept one change and reject the other.

What is the current situation with regard to the two issues we are being asked to vote on?

Issue1 – The Constitution originally prohibited divorce within Ireland.  In 1995, a referendum was passed which removed the prohibition on divorce by permitting a court to grant a divorce when certain conditions are met.  One of these conditions is that:

At the date divorce proceedings commence, the spouses must have lived apart for at least four out of the previous five years. The minimum four-year period does not have to have been continuous.

Issue 2  – The Constitution prohibits persons who have obtained a foreign divorce that is not recognised under Irish law from remarrying during the lifetime of the other party to the marriage. The Constitution does not set out the rules for recognition of a foreign divorce. Some foreign divorces are entitled to recognition within the State under existing law. At the moment, different recognition rules apply depending on where and when the foreign divorce was obtained.

What are the proposed changes?

Issue 1 – The Constitution will no longer require a person applying for a divorce to have lived apart from his or her spouse for at least four years.  Such a period can be defined in law by the Oireachtas.

Issue 2 – Provision may be made by law for the recognition of a dissolution of marriage that was granted under the civil law of another state.

Whatever your view, use your vote on May 24th. Visit for full information on the referendum.