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High value on marriage will not change says family law expert
Minister Richard Bruton at the count Pic:RollingNews.ie

27 May 2019 / family law Print

High value on marriage won't change – Shannon

Spokesman for the Lawyers for Yes campaign and family law solicitor Keith Walsh (small pucture) said this morning that the referendum result is an endorsement of the need for change in this country’s divorce laws.

Friday’s referendum on divorce waiting times was passed by a large majority with a final result of 82.1% voting in favour, and 17.9% against.

Reform

“The result of the vote also indicates an understanding by the Irish people of the need to reform our divorce laws to make them fairer and more humane,” Keith Walsh continued.

“Great credit is due to Ministers Madigan and Flanagan for bringing this referendum to the people.

“It is now up to family lawyers to bring proposals to the politicians to reform the system of family law.

“The Child and Family Law Committee’s report on divorce, as completed by Dr Geoffrey Shannon, is a good start but it is time for all of us to now roll up our sleeves to make sure the initiative is not lost and that much-needed reform takes place such as new specialist family courts, proper resourcing of the voice of the child, consideration of pre-nuptial agreements, examination of clean break divorces and more alternative dispute resolution,” he said.

Solicitor and family law expert Dr Geoffrey Shannon said “What’s very interesting is that what we have at the moment is a two-tier system arising from marital breakdown.

Aftermath

“Those citizens who wish to regularise their financial affairs and custody of their children in the aftermath of the breakdown of marriage but who are not living apart for four years, have had to access the system of judicial separation.

“Should these citizens wish to remarry, they are obliged to issue fresh proceedings in the form of a divorce application, which involves duplication of legal expenses, protracted proceedings, and increased trauma to children.

“The Irish people voted by an overwhelming majority to reduce the waiting period which will have the benefit of many citizens seeking to reorder their affairs, only having to access one set of legal proceedings.

Trauma

“This will result in reduced trauma to children who are deeply affected by the separation  process.

“We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that Ireland has the lowest divorce rate in Europe, at 3,412 in 2017, which shows how many couples do stay married and how successful an institution marriage remains,” he said.

“I do not believe that the referendum result will change the high value the Irish people ascribe to the institution of marriage.

Response

“This is a compassionate response to those whose marriage has broken down irretrievably,” Dr Shannon said.

The highest vote in favour was in the Dublin constituency of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, where 86.7% voted ‘yes’ followed by Fingal which was on 86.4%.

The highest ‘no’ vote was in Monaghan where 24.96% voted against the proposal followed by Leitrim where the ‘no’ vote was 23.59%.

The turnout nationally was 50.83%.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland