If a couple is experiencing difficulty in their relationship but there is some hope for reconciliation, this is always the option solicitors will advise. Marriage guidance counselling may be worth investigating in order to reconcile.
Gaining an annulment for a marriage is not common but does happen. Generally, gaining an annulment rests on proving that the marriage never existed and relies on psychological assessments.
Separation and divorce mean different things in Irish law. When a couple cannot agree the terms by which they will live separately, an application to the courts for a judicial separation order can be made by either party. A judicial separation order gives the terms of separation, makes provision for financial support of the family and if there are children the court will deal with issues in relation to custody and access to children. A judicial separation order can also provide for the extinguishment of succession rights, the transfer of property and pension adjustment orders if required. One crucial difference between judicial separation and divorce is that judicial separation does not grant permission for either spouse to marry again.
A period of separation is needed prior to a divorce being granted, but separation does not have to lead to divorce.
In order to marry again, or for other reasons, a couple may want to pursue a divorce. The Divorce Act requires spouses to live separately for a period of 4 out of the last five years prior to divorce proceedings commencing. It is also necessary to prove that there is not a reasonable expectation of reconciliation taking place and that financial provisions have been made for the entire family. The Court will make orders in relation to finances and children.
Obtaining legal advice for a separation or divorce in Ireland
It’s not a legal requirement to be represented by a legal professional in Ireland to obtain a separation or divorce, but Divorce Law deals with many complexities and expert advice is advised.
If a separating/divorcing couple are able to reach an agreement through the process of mediation (solicitors should advise couples to investigate mediation prior to embarking on the legal route), the cost of a separation or divorce is vastly reduced. The Family Mediation Service is a publicly funded resource, provided by the Legal Aid Board, and is available for couples to use.
Solicitors will always treat the welfare of children involved in a separation or divorce as a priority, and all recommendations will focus on what is best for the children of the separating/ divorcing spouses.
Use your lawyer wisely
If mediation hasn’t worked, people do need to use the legal route to exit their relationships.
Solicitors are eager to make the process as painless as possible for separating/divorcing couples, but as a separation/divorce involves many emotions, this is not always possible.
The best way for a couple to embark on a separation or divorce and keep the disruption to their lives to a minimum is to try and resolve as much as they can prior to reaching Court. Solicitors play a huge role in helping people see a medium and long-term view, rather than an immediate short-term perspective where emotions may be raw.
Although solicitors will always be thorough, couples who are able to agree on the main points of their separation/divorce will greatly minimise their costs.
Don’t hide money and assets
Solicitors are aware of the importance of advising clients not to hide money and assets prior to separation or divorce proceedings. Not only will the guilty party be caught out - any large movement of money or attempted disposal of property or other assets within three years of a separation or divorce proceeding will be investigated – the spouse will also weaken their own position in the separation or divorce negotiations and cast doubts on their own credibility.
Prepare for your day in Court
For most couples, the separation or divorce hearing is informal and brief. The Courts do not apportion blame on which spouse or partner caused the relationship breakdown. However, the Court will pay attention to behaviour that affects the children of a relationship, and will make a ruling on property and finances that places the children’s well-being first.
Know your courts
Most judicial separations and divorces in Ireland will go through the Circuit Court. However, if the couple separating or divorcing have a large amount of assets, it is likely that their separation/ divorce will be heard in the High Court.
We have a dedicated Family Law team at Augustus Cullen Law. Our team provides legal advice on all aspects of family law. We’re client-focused and we strive to provide cost-effective legal solutions for our clients.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on the following numbers if you’d like to talk to one of our lawyers about a family law topic:
Dublin: +353 1 613 9188
Wicklow: +353 404 67412
18 May 2017