Irish courts have a number of requirements before they will grant a couple a divorce, writes Emer Mulry, Solicitor at Berwick Solicitors LLP.
The 1st of December 2019 saw the introduction of The Family Law Act 2019 which brought the most significant change to the requirements surrounding obtaining a Divorce in Ireland since its introduction in Ireland under The Family Law (Divorce) Act in 1996.
Section 5 of the Act now provides that a couple may make an application for a Divorce once they have been living apart from one another for at least 2 out of the previous 3 years. Prior to 1 December 2019, the requirement was 4 out of the previous 5 years of living apart before an application could be brought. This left many couples in a very unsatisfactory state of limbo, not being able to resolve fully their financial affairs and move on with their lives. It was further argued that this lengthy period, following an often acrimonious split, before a couple could apply for divorce was causing people further unnecessary emotional distress and damage to their children as there was uncertainty in relation to access and custody arrangements.
In addition, the new Act has provided more clarity around what living apart means which was addressed by case law up to this point. It provides a new definition of the term ‘living apart’. It clarifies that spouses who live in the same home as one another can be considered to be living apart if the spouses are not living together as a couple in an intimate and committed relationship. The Act also sets out that a relationship does not cease to be an intimate relationship merely because the relationship is no longer sexual in nature.
The additional requirements/conditions to obtaining a divorce under the act remain as they were prior to the introduction of the 2019 Act. Before a court will grant a divorce, the following conditions must also be met:
- One of the parties to the marriage must be domiciled in Ireland when the application is made or must have lived in Ireland for a period of 1 year before the application is made.
- There must be no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.
- Proper arrangements/provision must have been made for both parties and any dependent members of the family such as children and other relatives.
- This third requirement is usually dealt with by way of various ancillary orders when the Court is granting a decree of divorce. The most usual ancillary court orders relate to the following:
- Arrangements for custody of and access to children
- Maintenance and lump sum payments for spouse and dependent children
- Ownership of the family/shared home
- Ownership of property and assets such as shares
- Pension adjustment orders
- Extinguishment of succession entitlements
Berwick Solicitors LLP specialises in Divorce and Separation in Galway, Dublin and Clare. For more information, please call;
065-682 1041 (Clare)
01-488 3322 (Dublin)