- When a couple gets a decree of divorce their marriage is dissolved and they are no longer legally married. They are free to remarry or enter into a civil partnership. Where a marital relationship has broken down irretrievably and it can be proven that the parties have lived apart for four years, one of the parties can issue proceedings to secure a decree of divorce. Unlike separation, the spouses alone cannot agree to divorce, court approval is needed to dissolve the marital union.
Before a court can grant a divorce, the following 3 conditions must be met:
- The spouses must have been living apart from one another for four out of the previous five years on the date the application is made.
- There must be no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.
- Proper provision must have been made, or will be made, for the spouses and any dependent children of the parties.
To ensure that such proper provision is made, the court is empowered to make parenting and financial orders at the time of the application, or prior to the hearing and at the substantive hearing of the divorce application.
Ancillary orders can include orders relating to custody and access, maintenance and lump sum payment orders, the transfer of property and pension rights and the extinguishment of inheritance or succession rights. In any application for a decree of divorce, the court can review any previous arrangements made by the couple such as a separation agreement, particularly if the circumstances of the parties have changed.
When a decree of divorce is granted, it cannot be reversed. Either party can apply to court to have any orders made under the decree – such as maintenance – reviewed subsequently by the court.
The Family Mediation Service (FMS) is the state funded mediation service, which can be availed of free of charge. Family Mediation Services are located nationwide with full time offices operating in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick; and part-time offices operating in Donegal, Kerry, Laois, Louth, Mayo, Sligo, Waterford, Westmeath and Wexford. People wishing to avail of the service can call the office most convenient to them and ask for an appointment.
Additionally as a result of the Courts Service and Family Mediation Service Initiative, there is a mediation service available through some Family Courts. Check with your local family court office to see if mediation is available through that court office. Click here for telephone numbers of your local family court office.
Mediation services can also be accessed through the services of a private mediator. The Mediators Institute of Ireland, the Law Society of Ireland and the Bar Council of Ireland keep a list of mediators trained in family mediation, see below links for further information.
- The Legal Aid Board has produced a useful overview of the process of divorce including information on counselling and mediation services; an explanation of the divorce application process; details of the powers of the court, including the orders that might be made by the court, both in respect of short term relief pending the resolution of the case and the orders made at the full hearing of the application.
- FLAC has also produced a comprehensive information leaflet on divorce. This leaflet explains the nature of the remedy of divorce and provides information on the application process and requirements, including details relating to securing a foreign divorce. Importantly, it also provides direction for negotiating the terms of divorce on a consent basis either by mediation or collaborative law.
- TUSLA, the Child and Family Agency, with the support of Barnardos, have created a number of very useful leaflets for parents and children on how to cope with the breakdown of a marriage:
- Coping with Separation (For Parents): This is a very useful leaflet for any parent who has separated from their spouse to help them understand the needs of their children before, during and after separation. This leaflet aims to assist parents in dealing with children from the ages of 6-12 years.
- Coping with Separation (For Children aged 6-12): This leaflet aims to inform and assist children aged 6-12 where their parents are in the process of separating.
- Coping with Separation (For Teenagers): This leaflet aims to inform and assist teenagers whose parents are in the process of separating
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The Legal Aid Board
- Address: The Legal Aid Board, Quay Street, Caherciveen, Kerry.
- Tel:+353 (0)66 947 1000 Locall: 1890 615 200
- Website: www.legalaidboard.ie
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Free Legal Advice Centres
- Address: , 13 Lower Dorset Street, Dublin 1.
- Tel:+353 (0)1 8745690 Fax:+353 (0)1 8745320
- Website: flac.ie
- Email: email@example.com
Family Mediation Service
- Address: Family Mediation Service, 1st Floor, St. Stephen’s Green House, Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2.
- Tel:+353 (0)1 6344320
- Fax:+353 (0)1 6622339
- Website: http://www.legalaidboard.ie
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Child and Family Agency – Tusla
- Address: Child and Family Agency, Block D, Park Gate Business Centre, Parkgate Street, Dublin, Ireland
- Tel:(01) 635 2854
- Website: http://www.tusla.ie/
- Address: Drop in 260 locations nationwide
- Tel: 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm).
- Website: http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/
Accord Catholic Marriage Counselling Service
AIM Family Services
AIM is a voluntary organisation which offers non-directive counselling, legal information, and a family mediation service to people experiencing marital, relationship and family problems.