If you wish to end an existing marriage you must apply to the Circuit Court or the High Court for an order for divorce. You do not need a solicitor but it is advised you seek the help of one as complex issues may arise in your case with which you may need the help of a professional.
Your solicitor is required by law to inform you of the options of reconciliation, mediation and separation. If, after this has been done, you are confident that you wish to proceed with an application for a decree of divorce, you must first satisfy some requirements:
- You must be party to a valid legal marriage.
- You must have been living apart from one another for at least 2 out of the last 3 years before a divorce application is made. Prior to the enactment of the Family Law Act 2019, this requirement was 4 out the previous 5 years.
- Living Apart
The Family Law Act 2019 also provides a definition for the term “living apart” in accordance with how the courts had been interpreting it prior to the Act. The 2019 Act clarifies that the divorcing couple can be deemed to have been “living apart” even if they are living in the same dwelling so long as the spouses are not living together in an intimate or committed relationship. The Act further clarifies that a relationship does not cease to be an intimate relationship solely because the relationship is no longer sexual in nature.
- There must be no reasonable prospect of reconciliation between the spouses.
- Proper provision must have been made or will be made for the spouse and any dependent children or other relatives.
If the above requirements are met, either party to a marriage may apply for a decree of divorce.
With the help of an experienced solicitor, an uncontested divorce (on consent) can be achieved with reasonable costs.
For contested divorces this cost can get significantly higher. Therefore, it is best to have the core elements of your divorce agreed with your spouse before the application as this will reduce both stress and costs.
The process of a divorce application can be long and tedious. At any one time there can be about 60,000 people waiting to lodge applications for divorce. It may be necessary to apply for interim orders like maintenance payments and custody agreements to make a potentially long wait more bearable. Your solicitor can advise you in relation to interim orders and what to do while waiting for a Court date.
While Irish divorce is not fault-based, the Court is entitled to and may take into account the behaviour of the spouses when making financial and property orders in the divorce.