Letter: Why you should vote YES in tomorrow’s Divorce Referendum

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Dear Editor,

I am writing this to request that people VOTE YES on Friday to the Divorce Referendum.

Last Christmas I sat with a client and she asked me why the law was so cruel. Her husband owned three properties all in his name and she was in a refuge with her children.

She was there for eight weeks until she ran to get away from her husband. He used the District Court to summons her for access and he also sought maintenance from her despite the fact that he made her quit work after they got married.

The law requires that they be separately and apart for four out of the previous five years before you can be given a decree of divorce. This time period is a life time for some in our society and one of her children has spent more of his life in a refuge than a family home because of it.

The reduction to two years makes sense as it also saves court time and gives people the opportunity to move on with their lives.

I realise the above case is the extreme but remember the law most cater for all and those who are vulnerable and in abusive relationships deserve to be protected.

No person knows how long they have on this earth but time wasted in limbo and distress is not fair to anyone. If you have the freedom to marry you should be provided with the option of divorce in good time as well. This referendum would give families an opportunity to heal and move on without the struggle and dormant of potentially 4 Christmases in dispute and uncertainty.

The law should be fair and to the clients I know who are in relationships that are abusive it takes a lot to come forward to seek assistance and legal advice.

We need a constitution that we can be proud of and that protects people and the children impacted by the ending of a relationship with the other parent or partner.

As my brother told me at the age of 8 years I had been in college his whole life and to me it was a realisation that for a child the time is felt differently.

We need to reduce the time a child is waiting for stability and certainty.  Those who get married are still entitled to basic human rights and they should not be held in a situation against their will for a set period in law that is unreasonable. We need to bring Ireland in line with other countries that give individuals a right to a remedy as soon as is reasonably possible.

Thanking you kindly,

Lorraine Lally

Barrister at Law