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Divorce is a dissolution of a marriage.  It ends the marriage and the parties can marry again.  Only a Court can grant a divorce in Ireland.  When granting a divorce the court can make orders about what the future living arrangements, contact and financial responsibility will be for the children of the marriage,  as well as in relation to the property of the marriage and pension arrangements.

How can I obtain a divorce?

If you wish to end an existing marriage, you must apply to the court(the Circuit Court or, where there is a significant amount of money or high value property involved, the High Court) for an order for divorce.  Its is possible to agree the terms of divorce between a husband and wife, however the court must grant the divorce.

You do not need to first obtain a legal separation to get divorced.

What advice will a solicitor give me?

A Solicitor will explain the process of seeking a divorce and what other orders a court mike make when is it granting a divorce.  A solicitor is also obliged to advise you of:

  • Counselling services that my be able to help bring about a reconciliation between you and your spouse.
  • Mediation Services that may be able to help you and your spouse negotiate and agree the terms of a divorce and
  • The possibility of negotiating a separation agreement instead of getting a divorce.

On what grounds would a court grant a divorce?

A court will grant a divorce if:

  • If you have lived apart for a period or period of that least two years during the previous three;
  • there is no reasonable prospect of a reconciliation between you and your spouse; and
  • it is satisfied that proper provision has been, or will be, made for each spouse and any dependent children.

Additional orders:-  In making an order for divorce, the court may also make additional orders in relation to matters such as:

  • custody and access arrangements in relation to dependent children;
  • financial provision for the dependent spouse and children by means of maintenance to be paid at fixed intervals and/or lump sums;
  • exclusion of a spouse from the family home by giving the other spouse the right to live in the family home, for life or for a fixed period;
  • barring of a spouse from the family home by preventing the spouse from entering it and from using or threatening violence against the other spouse and/or their children.  Alternatively without preventing a spouse from entering the family home, the court may make a safety order stopping a spouse from using or threatening violence against the other spouse or their children:
  • property arrangements in relation to the family home and/or other family property for the benefit of either spouse and/or dependent children,
  • financial compensation providing for the future financial security of a spouse through insurance policies.
  • inheritance/succession rights of each spouse against each other.  After a divorce the parties are no longer spouses of each other and thus do not have spouse's normal inheritance rights.  However, there are still certain cases where a former spouse may apply to court for a share out of the estate of his/her former spouse.
  • pension arrangements changing the pension entitlements of their spouse. However, the court will only do this if proper provision has not been, or cannot be, made for the spouse and children through the making of other financial or property orders.  A spouse can look for such an order either for his/her own benefit or for the benefit of a dependent child.  Where a spouse benefits from the making of an order changing pension rights in judicial separation processing's, the court may increase the benefit in later divorce proceedings;
  • emergency temporary matters can be dealt with before the hearing of an application for a divorce.

Can my foreign divorce be recognised in Ireland?

Foreign divorces can be recognised in Ireland but the circumstances in which they can be recognised depends on a number of factors including when it was obtained and in which country or jurisdiction.  Because of this it is best to seek legal advice in relation to whether a particular foreign divorce can be recognised in Ireland.

Its is possible to apply to court for a declaration that a foreign divorce is recognised in Ireland.  If a foreign divorce is recognised, the divorced person:

  • Is entitled to remarry
  • May be entitled to seek financial and property orders against his/her former spouse, provided that the divorced person apply for such orders has not remarried
  • May seek protection under the domestic violence legislation
  • Is not entitled to inherit from the estate of his/her former spouse
  • Is not entitled to the protection given to spouses in respect of the family home

It should be noted that it is not essential to take legal proceedings for a divorce to be recognised.  It may be necessary however if, for example, there is a dispute between the parties or with the Civil Registration Service or other authorities about whether or not the divorce is recognised.

Can I get a divorce if I'm in a civil partnership?

A decree of dissolution formally ends a civil partnership( which could be entered into by same-sex couple between 2011 and 2015).  If a court is satisfied that the required conditioned are met, the court will grant the decree of dissolution, dissolving the civil partnership.  When it grants the decree of dissolution, the court may also make orders in relation to the payment of maintenance and lump sums, the transfer of property, the extinguishment of succession rights, pension rights etc.

Before a court can grant a dissolution, the following conditions must be met:

  • The parties must have been living apart from one another for a period amounting to 2 out of the previous 3 years before the application is made
  • Proper arrangements must have been made or will be made for the civil partners and any dependent child of the civil partners

When a decree of dissolution is granted, it cannot be reversed.  Either party can apply to court to have any orders made under the decree - such as a maintenance order - reviewed by the court.  Once a decree of dissolution is granted the parties are no longer in a civil partnership and are free to marry other people. Since the commencement of the Marriage Act 2015, it is no longer possible to enter new civil partnerships.

A civil partnership is also dissolved if the parties to the civil partnership marry each other. This is automatic and does not require a court order or any other action by the parties.

The above is provided for information purposes only.  It does not purport to be either a statement of the law or legal advice.