By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — Women are outnumbering men by two to one in applying for divorce, according to new figures from the Courts Service.
There were 3,240 divorce applications last year and 2,444 decrees were granted. About 250 applications a week are being lodged. Divorce was introduced in Ireland only three years ago.
The figures show that 1,611 of the divorces granted were on the application of the wife, compared with only 864 from the husband.
The service said the gender difference for applications was more pronounced for judicial separations — with women outnumbering men by four to one.
The battle for divorce in Ireland went on for 10 years and involved two constitutional referenda, two Supreme Court cases and extensive Oireachtas legislation.
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Divorce and remarriage became legal for the first time in February 1997 and more than 8,000 have sought a divorce since then.
The courts can grant a decree when couples have been living apart for at least four of the previous five years. There must be no reasonable prospect of a reconciliation.
The last census revealed marital breakdown had increased by 135 percent in the 10 years to 1996 when there were 87,800 separated couples.
There has been huge social change in recent years, with almost 30 percent of children now born to unmarried mothers — many of them cohabiting couples who haven’t bothered to get married.