Written Answers. - Divorce Application Procedures.

Helen Keogh

Question:

33 Ms Keogh asked the Minister for Justice the reason so many bureaucratic and costly procedures have to be embarked upon by already legally separated parties in order to obtain a divorce decree; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6640/97]

I assume that the Deputy is referring to the procedures for making divorce applications to the Circuit Court which are prescribed in the Circuit Court Rules (No. 1), 1997 (S.I. No. 84 of 1997).

Section 70 of the Courts of Justice Act, 1936 provides that the power of making, annulling or altering Rules of Court for the Circuit Court shall be exercisable by the Circuit Court Rules Committee with the concurrence of the Minister for Justice. It is not, therefore, open to me to make any amendments to the Rules of the Circuit Court.

The Rules are based on the provisions of the Constitution regarding divorce and the provisions of the Judicial Separation and Family Law Reform Act, 1989, the Family Law Act, 1995 and the Family Law (Divorce) Act, 1996.

As the Deputy will be aware, the Rules and,inter alia, the question of how they apply to already legally separated parties, were the subject of an adjournment debate in this House on 27 February, 1997 — the day the Divorce Act and the Rules came into operation. During the course of that debate I undertook to raise those issues with the Rules Committee. This has been done and I am awaiting a response from the Rules Committee.