Separation Agreements Ireland

Blanchardstown, Castleknock, 27 Upper Mount Street, Dublin City Centre

What is a Separation Agreement?

Either through correspondence or meetings with your spouse’s legal advisors, your expert family law solicitor can lead negotiations towards an Agreement. This Agreement can be concluded between and with the benefit of separate legal advisors. 

Both you and your spouse will have to make full disclosure of your financial circumstances before entering into any negotiations or agreeing any terms of a Separation Agreement

A Separation Agreement is a legally binding contract drawn up generally between solicitors acting for you and another solicitor for your spouse.

The terms of the Separation Agreement are usually reached through either direct agreement between the spouses, through mediation or alternatively via negotiation through solicitors either in meetings or in correspondence.

Do I need a solicitor for a separation agreement in Ireland?

As a Separation Agreement is a legally binding contract it is generally drafted between solicitors acting for you and another solicitor for your spouse. It is important for the future enforceability of the Agreement that both parties are separately legally represented and advised.

How do I agree a Separation Agreement in Mediation?

If you agree matters in mediation, the mediator will have reduced the terms to a written Memorandum of Understanding. This is not a legal Separation Agreement. It is generally not advisable to sign a Memorandum of Understanding until such a time as you have received independent legal advice so you understand fully the legal and financial consequences of the agreements you are committing to with your spouse. Often when attending mediation participants will in between mediation sessions attend for legal advice and financial advice.

A legally binding Separation Agreement sets out your rights and obligations to each other as you end your relationship. A Separation Agreement however is not binding on pension trustees and while can have aspirational agreements concerning pensions, it will not effect any change to a pension policy.

Like all family law settlements, the first step in advancing a Separation Agreement is the exchange of financial information by the parties by way of sworn Affidavits of Means.

It is noteworthy that if you reach agreement in mediation, the terms of a mediated Memorandum of Understanding can also form the basis of an agreement upon which divorce settlement terms can be reached, providing the other legal requirements have been reached to apply for a divorce.

The advice around Separation and Divorce on this page are equally relevant to opposite-sex and same-sex marital breakdown.

Separation is the first step in a journey generally, but not always, to Divorce. When these dramatic changes first started to occur a significant number of people for religious and other reasons were satisfied to separate and obtain final Orders for a Judicial Separation but did not proceed to a Divorce subsequently.

An application for a judicial separation is made either in the Circuit Court or the High Court. As in all family law matters, cases are heard in private and the public is not admitted to the courtroom.

The Family Law Act 2019 commenced on 1 December 2019. It makes some important changes to the rules for getting a decree of judicial separation in Ireland. The Act amends the Judicial Separation and Family Law Reform Act 1989 to change the number of years the couple must be living apart from one another from 3 years to 1 year before the application for judicial separation can be made.

Frequently Asked Questions of our Divorce & Separation Solicitors in Dublin, Ireland

How do you obtain a Judicial Separation Decree?

When you are applying for a judicial separation you must submit 4 documents to the Circuit Court:

An application known as a family law civil bill. This initiating document sometimes called a Writ describes both you and your spouse, your occupations, and where you live. It also sets out when you married, for how long you have been living apart, and the names and birth dates of your children.
A sworn statement of means, setting out your assets, your income, your debts and liabilities, and your outgoings.
A sworn statement relating to the welfare of your children, if applicable. This document sets out the personal details of the children of the marriage. It describes where they live and with whom. It also describes their education and training, their health, childcare arrangements, and maintenance and access arrangements.
A document certifying that you have been advised of the alternatives to judicial separation and certifies that you have discussed the options of reconciliation, mediation, and separation agreements.

When both you and your spouse have filed all of the necessary documents, gone through the Case Progression hearing, you will then be given a date for a court hearing.

Should I apply for a Judicial Separation or a Divorce?

There are two critical factors for a divorce in Ireland that must be addressed. The first is the living apart and the second is the proper financial provision.

The key elements to obtaining a divorce in Ireland are:

The parties must have lived apart for the requisite time period.
There must be no reasonable prospect of a reconciliation.
Proper (financial) provision must exist or be put in place for the spouses and any dependent children.

In order to ensure that proper financial provision exists or is made by the court the legislation provides a menu of Ancillary Financial Relief Orders that a court can make including periodic Maintenance, Lump Sum Orders, Property Adjustment Orders, Orders in relation to the Family Home (Sale or Occupation of it) Financial Compensation Orders, Pension Adjustment Orders and Orders in relation to Inheritance Rights.

There is a list of statutory factors that the court must take into account in deciding what provision should be made for the spouses in each individual case. These include the financial circumstances of the parties, their financial obligations, and resources and earning capacity, the length of the marriage, the standard of living enjoyed by the couple, their accommodation needs, their ages and health, the degree to which the duties of family prejudiced their career and earning capacity, etc.

If the time frame for a Divorce is not met, formally Separating is the first option and there are various methods of formalising Separation Agreements in Ireland in a legal context.

Is there another way to separate without going to Court?
Mediation, Negotiations and Collaborative approaches

One option is to resolve matters by means of a negotiated memorandum of understanding agreed between you with the assistance of a mediator, which 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 mediation with your spouse and a qualified mediator and you can continue to do so while seeking legal advice in between these sessions. The mediator will meet with you both 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.

Alternatively through correspondence or meetings with your spouse’s legal advisors negotiations towards an Agreement can be concluded between legal advisors. Both of you should make full disclosure of your financial circumstances before entering into any negotiations or agreeing with any terms of an Agreement.

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 you, your spouse, and lawyers attend. If either party decides 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 an 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 Judicial Separation if you wished to obtain Court Orders and in particular Pension Adjustment Orders. Alternatively matters if agreed can be finalised into a Separation Agreement.

Applying to Court for an Order for Judicial Separation

An application for Judicial Separation Agreements in Ireland must be based on one of the following six grounds:

  • One party has committed adultery
  • One party has behaved in such a way that it would be unreasonable to expect the other spouse to continue to live with them
  • One party has deserted the other for at least one year at the time of the application
  • The parties have lived apart from one another for one year up to the time of the application and both parties agree to the decree being granted
  • The parties have lived apart from one another for at least three years at the time of the application for the decree (whether or not both parties agree to the decree being granted) Note – the Family Law Act 2019 amends the Judicial Separation and Family Law Reform Act 1989 to change the number of years the couple must be living apart from one another from 3 years to 1 year before the application for judicial separation can be made.
  • The court considers that a normal marital relationship has not existed between the spouses for at least one year before the date of the application for the decree.

The last is by far the most common ground on which the decree is granted, as neither party has to be shown as being at fault. A Judicial Separation Order does not leave either of you free to re-marry but rather governs how you will live apart.

Once Court proceedings issue each party must disclose their means (i.e. income, assets, debts, expenditure, etc.) and this statement of means must be backed up by way of vouching documentation. The Court also has wide powers to order disclosure or discovery of documentation if appropriate and these issues and the matters in dispute are assessed through a series of case progression hearings with the Court Registrar.

In addition, the Court has power at the outset to make a wide range of Orders for interim reliefs in relation to matters such as maintenance, access, and domestic violence and if the circumstances require such emergency relief can be sought.

At this stage, it is important to point out that just because of the Court proceedings issue, this does not mean that the matter must run to a full hearing. Quite often cases are settled and the terms then ruled before a Judge on consent.

However whether on settlement terms or a full hearing before the court will make an Order for judicial separation, the Judge must be satisfied that:

  • The grounds for the application exist.
  • The couple has been advised about counseling and mediation.
  • Proper provision has been made for the welfare of any dependants
  • If it is satisfied, the court will grant a Decree of Judicial Separation.

The Decree confirms that the couple is no longer obliged to live together as a married couple.

As part of the Order for Judicial Separation the power to make a wide range of orders in relation to custody and access to children, the payment of maintenance and lump sums, the transfer of property, the division of assets, the extinguishment of succession rights, as well as other matters.

Certain matters can only be varied by having recourse to the Courts such as pensions and for this reason, even if matters can be agreed through negotiations those terms can be ruled on consent in Court in order to obtain a Court Order rather than in a Separation Agreement if the parties prefer. You cannot enter into a Separation Agreement and apply through the Courts for relief by way of an Order for Judicial Separation, both processes are distinct remedies.

As you will appreciate from the foregoing explanation regarding matters, if your case can be settled without protracted correspondence and negotiations the fee will be considerably less than if your case proceeds to a court hearing or is settled only shortly in advance of a court hearing date. Indeed we can see if agreement can be reached before proceedings are issued and then proceedings are issued in contemplation of the settlement reached and a hearing date obtained to rule the settlement terms on consent.

Even on a consent ruling, the Court must independently satisfy itself that the marriage is at an end and in relation to all of the matters as set out above.

If matters cannot be agreed upon by negotiations, there will be no option but to proceed with the court proceedings and progress the case to have the matter heard by a Judge to determine issues. If the case resolves and an Agreement is reached a consent date can be applied for during the Case Progression process or through the Office and the Court can be asked to approve the Agreement reached and a request made to grant the judicial separation order.

If an agreement cannot be reached and/or if there is a risk that assets will be put beyond your reach, in order to protect your rights in this matter we would have to recommend the issuing of Court proceedings. In such circumstances, we generally try to set the matter down for trial as early as is, if these circumstances arise. Carmody Moran Solicitors will always advocate in your best interests and will advise you as to what is the most practical and cost-efficient means of protecting your position and achieving your aims, we understand that Family law requires tact and ease that only experience and expert advice can bring to difficult situations.

The likely impact of the Family Law Act 2019 on Separation

The main provision of this Act is to reduce the living apart period to two years out of the previous three.

At the time of writing this Act is in its infancy but it does seem likely that parties will be increasingly likely to talk about divorce immediately rather than focusing on Court Ordered Judicial Separation. It might be that if emergency relief is required, that a standalone application under the 1976 Maintenance Act or the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964 could be commenced rather than making a full application for judicial separation or that Separation Agreements will become more commonplace as a stepping stone towards an application for Divorce once the requisite time period has expired.

But in other cases where the protection of the court is required, an application for judicial separation may be required or be commenced which can in due course be superseded and effectively converted to an application for divorce after the two year period has elapsed if the separation proceedings have not been concluded by then.

In the long term, however, applicants should not need to apply to the Court twice (i.e., separation and then divorce). This will hopefully make the court process speedier and more cost-effective for applicants. It should be less costly again to applicants who can reach an agreement of all or a number of matters in advance of a single application for divorce

How do I prepare myself for a separation?

This is not an easy one, there can be much to consider, and the best advice is to get real advice guided towards your specific situation from an expert family law solicitor. You may also wish to think about additional personal support too, as separation can be like bereavement, it is a loss, including to the person initiating the separation.

At Carmody Moran Solicitors LLP our expert legal advisors can give you that initial guidance and even if the separation does not advance at all or does not become a dispute, you can make decisions with the piece of mind of that additional knowledge and support.

We offer an initial one-off ask the expert consultation in family law matters for a fee of €200 plus vat being €242.

What to do when you are thinking of leaving your husband / wife in Ireland?
  1. Gather and keep records, keep a diary
  2. Keep a folder with your financial correspondence as it issues
  3. Review your finances and consider creating a monthly budget.
  4. List Property & Other Assets.
  5. Contact a Family Solicitor / Divorce Lawyer.
  6. Get advice on alternative methods of dispute resolution and mediation.
  7. Consider changing your passwords to email and online accounts
  8. Take steps to protect any joint savings from being dissipated
  9. Consider a joint approach with your spouse as to what to tell or not tell any children. Do some background reading appropriate to the age of your children that may help both you and your spouse navigate this time.

Take advice and assistance where you can, for instance consider reaching out for some additional personal support, we frequently advise our clients to consider counselling or coaching to help them as they navigate this difficult time.

What should you not do when separating in Ireland?

At Carmody Moran Solicitors LLP we know from experience that this can be a daunting process.  Early legal advice is key, it can help you get on the right track and answer your pressing questions and give you some initial guidance to put your mind at ease. 

It is advisable:

  1. Not to go on line letting off steam.
  2. Go slow with texts and emails, they may end up being read by third parties, save a draft and review it with a fresh head in the morning.
  3. Do keep it private.
  4. Do consider obtaining early legal advice.
  5. It is generally not advisable to move out of a family home unless your physicial safety or mental welfare is in danger.
  6. Consider reaching out for some additional personal support, we frequently advise our clients to consider counselling or coaching to help them as they navigate this difficult time.

What next?

If you would like to discuss any of the issues around separation agreements in Ireland, divorce, or relationship breakdown arising from marital breakdown or cohabiting breakdown, above, please contact us to speak with one of our reassuring family law experts about how we can help by email solicitor@carmodymoran.ie or telephone (01) 8272888.

For a Solicitor for Separation Agreements and further information on separation agreements in Ireland please feel free to telephone our Family Law Solicitors at the office on 27 Upper Mount Street in Dublin City Centre on 01 827 2888 or use the quick enquiry form.

Your Expert Separation Agreements in Ireland Legal Team

At Carmody Moran Solicitors in Dublin our experienced family law lawyers are on hand to advise and skilled in handling all nature of separation agreements in Ireland.

The two partners of Carmody Moran Solicitors in Dublin have a combined total of in excess of twenty five years professional legal experience. Together with their associates they as solicitors for separation agreements 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.

Anthony-Carmody-Solicitor-Dublin

Anthony Carmody

Partner

Anthony Carmody is one of the founding Partners of Carmody Moran Solicitors.

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-Family-Law-Solicitor-Dublin

Niamh Moran

Partner

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 lawconveyancing in Dublin, and probate divisions 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.

*While we have made every effort to provide accurate information, the law is always changing and it affects each person differently. This information is not a substitute for specific advice about you personally and it is not intended as legal advice. We will not be liable to you if you rely on this information. In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement. This statement is made in compliance with Reg.8 of SI 518 of 2002.

You should note that no solicitor/client relationship or duty of care or liability of any nature shall exist or be deemed to exist between Carmody Moran Solicitors and you until you have received a written letter of engagement from us in which we confirm our appointment as your Solicitors.

INDEPENDENT GOOGLE CLIENT REVIEWS

Joe Marsh
Joe Marsh
17:59 26 Sep 22
We recently closed on a first time house purchase and we were very pleased with how the whole process was handled at Carmody Moran. They always responded clearly and promptly to the many queries I had along the way and were on the ball with following up issues with the sellers solicitors to keep the process moving.The reason I went with them originally over other options was because they gave a very clear breakdown for the charges and the quoted price we were given was transparent and easy to understand compared to other quotes I received.I will definitely use them again if the need arises and recommend them to my friends and family.
Kenneth Ohaa
Kenneth Ohaa
09:52 01 Sep 22
I got the keys to my new house a few weeks back. I cannot recommend Carmody Moran Solicitors highly enough. It was a bit lengthy as I was buying and selling at the same time. In such cases you need experienced and competent solicitors such as Carmody Moran Solicitors.Stephanie and Helen were a pleasure to work with. Very transparent and communicative. Also occasionally dealt with Lucy and Caila. They were brilliant as well.I would like to say Thank you to the entire Carmody Moran team.Kenneth
Salt Almighty
Salt Almighty
06:16 10 Aug 22
I needed a solicitor to arrange a mortgage, and they went above and beyond to help me !I would advise them to anyone
Andrew NEROH
Andrew NEROH
19:39 04 Jul 22
My partner and I recently made the acquisition of our first home and it was a lengthy and difficult process, due to the fact we were buying from a receiver.In such difficult cases, you will need a legal representation as competent and professional as Carmody Moran Solicitors on your side.We were primarily dealing with Stephanie who gave us regular updates, helped us understand what is happening and what to do. We felt our interest always came first which made every appointment with her something we looked forward to.We were also occasionally in contact with Lucy, Niamh and other brilliant members of the firm, all of whom provided an excellent level of support and knowledge in Stephanie's absence.I couldn't recommend Carmody Moran enough. I would like to give a heartfelt thank-you on behalf of myself and my partner to every one involved at the firm who helped us make our dream a reality. We will not hesitate to call upon your services again should the occasion arise.Andrew.
jonathan
jonathan
16:14 28 Jun 22
I would highly recommend Carmody Moran Solicitors. Niamh Moran and her team helped and supported me through the sale of my home. The transaction was dealt with efficiently and quickly. Every step was clearly explained from the Sale Questionnaire, Contract for Sale to Completion.
Herghelegiu Oana
Herghelegiu Oana
22:44 20 Jun 22
We just got the keys to our dream home 🏡 special thanks to Stephanie,Helen,Caila and Carmody Moran team.All the girls are very friendly and helpful.Stephanie was a pleasure to have you as our solicitor.Highly recommend!
Karolina Siwakowska
Karolina Siwakowska
20:00 28 Mar 22
We've just got the keys to our dream home and Carmody Moran has helped us with all the legal work. We've been dealing with Stephanie and Helen and they both have been great: friendly, professional and communicative. The whole process can be intimidating at times, but they've made sure to make it as easy as possible for us. They've represented us well. Highly recommended.
ciara daly
ciara daly
16:27 18 Feb 22
Anthony and his team went above and beyond for me, everything was always looked after and I was constantly kept in the loop for my RTA case. From phone calls to emails to dealing with insurers. Gave me great peace of mind that I chose the right solicitor and Anthony himself is a gentleman. I would highly recommend Carmody Moran Solicitors.
Cassandra Reyes
Cassandra Reyes
11:11 14 Jan 22
Tony is quick and responsive to me. Very professional and would definitely recommend to my family and friends.Thank you so much.
Martin Kinsella
Martin Kinsella
17:23 15 Dec 21
CarmodyMoran were a pleasure to deal with. I found them to be extremely helpful in all my queries and responded to me in a very personal and professional manner.
Marie Byrne
Marie Byrne
14:06 30 Nov 21
Anthony & Niamh are our family Solicitor, so had no hesitation when the decision was made to sell of our family home. They dealt with my dad in the most caring manner explaining everything in detail. I dealt with Helen Ryan and Stephanie Tierney. The response to every query was exceptional. An absolute pleasure to deal with. If they were unavailable Emma at reception would pass all messages on. It was a very positive experience and a fantastic team at Carmody/Moran Solicitors. Thank you. Marie Byrne
Jennifer Foley
Jennifer Foley
18:13 27 Nov 21
Excellent.I am a client of Carmody Moran for the last few years.Niamh is a lovely person she made a difficult and lengthy process easy and answered any questions in a timely manner, very approachable and thorough.With her guidance and experience I found her to be very professional and understanding of my position, every step of the process was explained to me without overwhelming me.I cannot speak highly enough of Niamh and her team.I am happy to recommend them to anyone.
Richard Lawrence
Richard Lawrence
13:04 02 Sep 21
Would highly recommend.Tony and his team were absolutely brillant dealing with my case.Tony made me feel comfortable from day one, he explained everything to me at all times . Any time I had questions about thing's there was no problem in picking up the phone or sending a email Tony always got back to me and answered my questions.Fantastic service.
Fran Carroll
Fran Carroll
18:10 10 Jun 21
Tony an his team are brilliant.Left no stone unturned.
We availed of Carmody Moran Solicitors for the sale of our property. Niamh and her team were very efficient, quick, easy to reach and, most importantly, proactive to solve issues and process the sale. Really happy with the service and a very good value for money. Highly recommend!
Annamay Rowan
Annamay Rowan
12:21 10 Mar 21
Would highly recommend Anthony Carmody as he was so supportive with me and my family's case. If you made contact he would ring or email you back that day and explain things in your language.
Anant Batra
Anant Batra
00:05 05 Feb 21
Fantastic experience dealing with Anthony. Excellent and quick communication. Would highly recommend!
Elvyra Petkeviciute
Elvyra Petkeviciute
15:43 02 Sep 20
Great service, efficient, proffesional, very responsive. Over all very happy with services.
Tracy Ankers
Tracy Ankers
11:22 02 Aug 20
Would highly recommend Anthony and his team .
Elaine McSweeney
Elaine McSweeney
10:01 31 Jul 20
Really pleased with the advice, help, communication and understanding that I received all the way through my case. A very personable and professional firm with the focus always on the client.
Maxine Hudson
Maxine Hudson
13:47 12 May 20
Would highly recommend. No nonsense straight to the point. Kept informed at all times during the process. Anthony and staff all great.
Mark Kelly
Mark Kelly
02:11 06 Feb 20
Great team to deal with, very professional, communication from them constantly was beyond amazing, nothing but great things to say for them, Tony went above and beyond for me, highly recommended A++ for there service, thank you again guys much appreciated.
Mick Giles
Mick Giles
15:50 09 Dec 19
My experience with this law firm was exceptional. Tony is a very professional man who gave me his time and opinion without over promising on the result. Honest and trustworthy - Highly recommend
david clarke
david clarke
17:01 02 Dec 19
Absolute pleasure working with the CM team. Highly professional, always helpful. Great communication and made the process as hassle free as possible. Highly recommended.
Matthew Canning
Matthew Canning
17:17 23 May 19
Streetfront Lawyers.
Alan Alyyan
Alan Alyyan
19:14 21 Jan 19
Professional Solicitors that you can depend on!
Vanja Jovanovic
Vanja Jovanovic
07:49 06 Jul 18
We have dealt with both, Niamh and Anthony. Very pleased with the level of service. Very professional and always there to answer any questions we had while guiding us through the process. Highly recommended
Bonnie B
Bonnie B
07:52 14 Jun 18
Great to deal with professional,patient and efficient. Big thanks to Niamh, Leanne and Camilla .
declan mcgrath
declan mcgrath
07:36 12 Jun 18
Great service from Niamh, Leanne and all the team at Carmody Moran. Thanks
Phyllis Dalton
Phyllis Dalton
16:33 31 May 18
Our experience with Carmody Moran was very positive. They were very professional and always there on the phone if I ever needed anything. Great service.
Andrew Penrose
Andrew Penrose
23:57 24 May 18
We selected Carmody Moran to represent us. Great experience with Niamh and the crew after over a year engagement on property dealings have nothing but great things to say. Very professional, prompt to queries and very responsive. Highly recommended.
Paul Moran
Paul Moran
17:52 25 Feb 18
Professional but very friendly and courteous.
jingjing xu
jingjing xu
16:11 15 Jun 15
I went to Carmody after deciding to get a house. I found their work is detailed and very reliable. I will go again to them for next time legal service.
David McGowan
David McGowan
16:43 14 May 15
I went to Carmody Moran Solicitors after a car accident and needed injury claim advice, I was incredibly impressed and was kept well informed of how my claim was progressing.They were very straight forward and never set unrealistic time frames or over promising but delivered on everything, They were consummate professionals and I really can't thank them enough, I would highly recommend them to anyone and I will use them for any legal advice I may have in the future.
Terry Palmer
Terry Palmer
15:24 23 Apr 15
I have always found the service offered by Carmody Moran to be first rate and i would would have no hesitation in recommending them.
Next Reviewsjs_loader
Law-Society-of-Ireland
Finalist-Logo
Membership-Logo
APIL-Logo
National-Solicitors-Alliance-Logo