If you have reached the difficult decision that your marriage is over, the next step is to formally separate. Getting a separation or divorce in Ireland involves contacting a Solicitor who will go through the best options open to you after going through your personal circumstances. Usually the first step is to agree arrangements in relation to any dependent children of the marriage so as to ensure each parent can see the children with as little disruption to the children as possible.


What Is The Process For Separation In Ireland?


The process for separation can be very difficult  and emotionally charged. It can take some time to resolve the issues. If matters can be agreed between the parties using mediation this is always the fastest and most cost effective.


However, the reality is that in a separation, relationships have often broken down to such an extent that mediation will not work. If court applications are required this will take some time. Access and Maintenance issues in the District court can be dealt with within a number of months.


The division of the marital assets for example the family home and lands will be dealt with in the Circuit or High court and this can take up to two years for completion depending on the issues.


A number of options are open to the parties in order to effect Separation and Divorce namely the following:-


Is Mediation Used In Family Law Cases?


The parties can attend mediation with a view to agreeing all matters between them. This is non adversarial and is done with the assistance of a Mediator. It does not involve court attendance and can be very beneficial for many couples. A mediated agreement can then be converted into a Divorce by a court if either party requires a Divorce. However, Mediation will not work for every couple.


What Is A Separation Agreement?


Therefore the next alternative step to be considered by the parties is that of a separation agreement. This involves each spouse Instructing a solicitor to represent their interests. Financial documentation is exchanged between the parties and both solicitors assist the parties in negotiating an agreement in relation to all matters to include custody, access, maintenance and the division of the couples financial assets. Quite often a separation agreement can be the basis for a consent Divorce (Divorce by agreement) which is ruled by the court.


What Is A Judicial Separation?


If agreement cannot be reached then the next step is to proceed with an application to the court by way of a Judicial Separation. The parties can apply for a Judicial Separation or Divorce depending on the length of time the couple have been separated. A judicial Separation will deal with all issues to include Access, Maintenance, Properties, Pensions etc.


What Is The Process For Divorce In Ireland?


In order to apply for a divorce in Ireland a couple must be two years separated. If the parties do not qualify for a Divorce they can proceed with a judicial separation application. Both of these applications are essentially asking a Judge to make orders in relation to all matters pertaining to the dissolution of the marriage. This will include orders dealing with Custody/Access, maintenance, the division of properties and other financial assets to include Pensions.


Custody And Access after Separation Or Divorce in Ireland


A court in dealing with Custody and Access in respect of dependent children will always make Orders considering what is in the best interests of the children.


How Are Property And Other Assets Divided After Separation Or Divorce?


In dealing with the marital  Assets a court will strive to achieve proper provision for both Spouses.

This is a division of the assets which represents a fair division bearing in mind the contributions by both parties during the course of the marriage and the needs of the parties at the time of the matter coming before the court.


Separation and the dissolution of a marriage is a very difficult time for any family. The legalities involved can often be daunting for the parties. However as set out above there are many avenues open to a separating couple. There is no one size fits all. The key to an efficient and fair separation is to ensure you employ the correct method of separation for your family situation. Every family is different and each family requires an approach tailored to their particular circumstances.


Orlagh Sharkey is a Partner at Callan Tansey Solicitors LLP and Head of the Family Law Department. If you have questions about any of the issues raised in this article, or any other matters relating to Family Law you can contact Orlagh directly here.

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