Family Law | Divorce
Only a Court in Ireland can grant a decree of divorce which in effect dissolves a marriage and leaves both parties free to remarry.
Since December 2019, the time frame to be fulfilled to obtain a decree of divroce has been reduced. Now a couple must have been living apart from one another for a minimum of 2 out of the previous 3 years before the dirvorce application is made. (previously this was a 4 year period out of the previous 5 years so this now a major change in Irish Law.)
The Court also has the ability to make a wide rang of Orders including Orders relating to:
- The custody (day to day living arrangements) of children
- Maintenance for children and spouses
- Lump sum financial payment orders
- Transfer of property
- Pension rights and division
A court can only grant a divorce, providing the following conditions are met:
- The Family Law Act 2019 defines ‘living apart’ (see ‘Living apart’ below).
- At least one of the spouses must be domiciled in Ireland when the application is made or, have lived in Ireland for at least the 1 year period before the application is made.
- There must be no reasonable prospect of reconciliation, and your Solicitor will discuss this with you and other means of separating by agreement rather than by Court alone.
- Proper arrangements must be in place for spouses and any dependents including children or other relatives.
What does “living apart” mean in Family Law proceedings?
The Family Law Act 2019 defines ‘living apart’ to give absolute certainty to the interpretation of this term in the Irish courts. It makes it clear that spouses who live in the same home as one another are considered to be living apart if the spouses are not living together as a couple in an intimate and committed relationship. The Family Law Act 2019 says that a relationship does not cease to be an intimate relationship simply because the relationship is no longer sexual in nature.
Do you always have to go to Court to get a Divorce?
The short answer to this is yes, however any matters in dispute do not have to be determined by a Judge if you can reach agreement between yourselves and the Court is satisfied to approve those agreements and arrangements that you propose as part of the Divorce.
There are various means of reaching agreement when looking to Dviorce.
One option is to resolve matters by means of a negotiated memorandum of understanding agreed between you with the assistance of a mediator. This would lead to the resolution of all matters pertaining to issues such as property, maintenance, and succession rights which is then used to apply for a Court Order on a consent basis.
You can attend for mediation with a qualified mediator and you can continue to do so while seeking legal advice in between these sessions. The mediator will meet with you and your spouse for a number of meetings and discuss proposals towards a resolution of matters. You should not sign the memorandum of understanding or any document without first obtaining legal advice. This Agreement is then not binding until it is drawn up legally into an Agreement and signed by you both. The Consent Agreement can then be used as the basis of the Divorce application and the application can proceed on a consent basis.
Alternatively through correspondence or meetings with your spouse’s legal advisors negotiations towards an Agreement can be concluded between legal advisors. This is quite common and frequently works very well. Both parties must make full disclosure of their financial circumstances before entering into any negotiations or agreeing any terms of an Agreement. An early settlement meeting in such matters can greatly reduce the legal costs of obtaining a Divorce and enable you to obtain an affordable Divorce while having your interests fully legally represented.
Another option is to conduct negotiations through a collaborative law approach where negotiations take place through a series of “four-way” settlement meetings, which both your spouse and both lawyers attend. If either party decide later to proceed to Court then the collaborative process ends and both collaborative lawyers are disqualified for the process and can no longer act in the Court proceedings.
Our estimated fee for a Divorce by Agreement achieved through negotiations varies upon the work required to secure that Agreement. An application would then have to be issued in Court to obtain the Order for Dirvorce. Alternatively matters if agreed can be finalised in to a Separation Agreement while you wait to reach the time threshold to obtain a Divorce.
The vast majority of Divorce cases settle before going to Court, and settlement is always preferable if a fair agreement can be reached. This will greatly save you on your legal costs of getting a Divorce.
Do you need a solicitor to get a Divorce?
Absolutely not, but legal advice is recommended:
- To assess if what you are being offered is fair
- To ensure that all matters are addressed. All too frequently we have come across ‘DIY’ separations and divorces that have to be re-opened because crucial matters such as pensions, property, or succession rights were not dealt with leaving problems to be resolved.
- Complex financial assets, family businesses, bank arrangements, property portfolios will in general require family law advice with commerical and property legal advice.
At Carmody Moran Solicitors you will always be represented by a Solicitor with expert family law experience. We understand that this is one of the biggest financial and personal transactions that you will go through and that expert family law advice is crucial. We firmly believe that good endings make for good beginnings and that senstive and expert legal advice will guide you forward to this new stage in your life.
Is my foreign divorce valid in Ireland?
Divorces granted in most EU countries are generally automatically recognised in Ireland without the need for a court application. However if there is a dispute, an application can be required to the Court to have the divorce recognised or not recognised in Ireland.
Whether the divorce will be recognised in Irish law, or not, will depend upon various matters including:
- Where the divorce order was granted
- When the divorce was granted
- Where either of the spouses lived at that time, for how long and whether or not that country was their normal residence and whether they intended to stay there long term.
Will Brexit effect my Irish Divorce?
On 31 January 2020 at 11pm the UK exited the EU. From that date the UK is no longer a member of the EU and is considered a third country that is not in the EU. However, during the agreed transition period (at the time of writing this is until 31 December 2020), British citizens and their families have the same right to live, work, claim benefits, and access healthcare in the EU as they had before. Further change in this area can be anticipated.
Who pays the legal costs of a Divorce in Family Law Matters
In family law matters, it is generally ordered that each party to the proceedings bears their own costs. This is approach is generally taken by Judges so that one side is not ordered to bear all of the legal costs so as to allow the parties to the family dispute to hopefully move forward and not have the Court outcome add to ill feelings into the future by feeling punished by the outcome of the case.
However the conduct of the litigation may influence a Court in deciding whether or not to make an order for costs for or against either party. This will include any delay or obstruction by either party to the proceedings in complying with any reasonable request by the other side or delay in complying with any court order. This includes not complying with a reasonable request for discovery and also includes either party making an unreasonable request of the other party including seeking excessive discovery. That said however it is unusual for the family law Courts to make awards of costs and you should budget for legal costs personally.
Legal Costs for a Divorce
If all assets, income, and liabilities can be clearly identified and valued, there is no reason why parties entitlements cannot be identified and endeavours made to resolve matters by agreement without the necessity of a court contested battle. This will make the Divorce legal costs much more affordable and will reduce the legal costs of obtaining a Divorce.
At Carmody Moran Solicitors, we will advise you if we believe your case can be resolved by agreement which is much more time and resource efficient, we believe ethically this is our duty to you as our client.
For instance lengthy and/or accusatory correspondence with the solicitor for the other side will very likely lead to increased costs and furthermore that it may well inflame the situation, prompting in turn an aggressive response which may lead to further protracted correspondence/litigation between the parties resulting in increased legal costs. We do not believe in antagonising already tense situations in family law matters and our approach at all times will be to resolve matters as amicably as possible and this ethos and ethical practice underpins our work in all family law matters.
When it comes to Divorce legal costs, we will endeavour at all stages to conduct your case in the most cost efficient manner possible and we will for instance advise you when there are tasks that you could undertake yourself to avoid you incurring unnecessary or additional legal costs. We will discuss options with you following an initial review of your case and what we believe is the best way forward for you to resolve issues and give you an estimate of the costs involved.
Generally in family law matters we operate legal fees and payments on account by installments towards legal fees. This way you are not left with a large unknown bill at the conclusion of the matter. The final fees estimated to conclude the matter, will be estimated in advance of the final Court application date and must be discharged before that hearing date unless some other agreement is entered into formally with regard to legal costs. This is because we may have obligations to others that must also be discharged on the conclusion of your case, such as Counsel.
To assist your cost management you should note that costs will be kept to a minimum if you carry out actions and prepare the work, which will be necessitated and requested during your case, in an efficient and timely manner and we will advise you of such matters in a step by step manner so as to make the process as easy and stressfree as can be possible in such matters.
At Carmody Moran Solicitors we do not shy away from being direct about all the difficult matters that will arise in a family law dispute and this includes being direct with you about legal fees and ensuring that you do not experience any “hidden” charges or suprises. Family law proceedings are tough matters to deal with and hit the family purse as what was once one home or ‘pot’ must now accommodate two persons living apart and we understand this is an additional pressure that must be addressed.
For further information please feel free to telephone us at 01 827 2888 or use the quick enquiry form.
Your Expert Team
At Carmody Moran Solicitors our experienced family law lawyers are on hand to advise and skilled in handling all nature of divorce.
The two partners of Carmody Moran solicitors have a combined total of in excess of twenty five years professional legal experience. Together with their associates they aim to make the Court process as straight forward and navigable as possible while being on hand to alleviate their clients concerns and worries about going through the Court process.
He has significant experience in personal injury cases and general litigation having handled literally thousands of cases on behalf of clients based in Ireland and abroad.
Niamh Moran is one of the founding partners of Carmody Moran Solicitors and is a solicitor with wide ranging experience across all areas of general practice.
Niamh manages the family law, conveyancingand probatedivisions of the practice. Niamh’s practice of law is extremely varied and she is regularly sought out for her expertise by clients and colleagues alike.