The Supreme Court has called for legislation to enable a uniform approach to recognition of foreign divorces. It follows a ruling that Irish law does not recognise the validity of divorces obtained before 1986 in certain circumstances.
An important judgment was delivered by the court today relating to the recognition here of foreign divorces obtained before 1986, the year a law was enacted abolishing the dependent domicile of a married woman. The five-judge court ruled, by four to one, that Irish law does not recognise the validity of a foreign divorce lawfully granted before October 1986 in a country where neither person in the marriage was domiciled when the divorce proceedings were instituted but where one party was resident.
All five judges agreed the legislative position in relation to the “difficult issue” of recognition of foreign divorces should be reconsidered to ensure, as far as possible, a uniform approach.The judgment was delivered in proceedings by an Irish woman who married here in the 1960s and had several children with her husband before she left him due to his alleged violence, which he denied.While resident in England, the woman got a divorce there in the early 1980s.
The Supreme Court noted the English court appeared to have made no financial provision for the woman in that order. She returned to Ireland some years ago and began divorce proceedings here in 2005 in which it was argued her English divorce was not entitled to recognition here. She also sought a declaration her marriage subsisted at the date the Irish proceedings were initiated. Her husband lodged a defence to those claims and a counterclaim.
The Attorney General, represented by Cormac Corrigan SC, was a party to the case which was referred by the High Court to the Supreme Court for determination of legal points arising from the fact of the existence of conflicting High Court decisions concerning recognition of foreign divorce granted before 1986. The essential point for the court to decide was whether Irish law recognised the validity of a foreign divorce lawfully granted before October 2nd, 1986, in a country where neither party was domiciled at the date of institution of the foreign proceedings but where one party was resident there.