For a Divorce to be granted in Ireland the Court has to be satisfied with regard to the following matters:
- The parties must have been living apart from one another for a period amounting to four out of the previous five years before the application is made.
- There can be no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.
- Adequate arrangements must have been or will be put in place for the wellbeing of the spouse, dependent children or other dependent members of the family.
In addition before a Divorce is granted a Court will take into consideration the following matters:
- The financial situation of both parties
- Property rights and entitlements
- The welfare and requirements of dependents
- Succession rights
Practically speaking these matters are set out in a hearing before a Judge of the Circuit or High Court which is held in camera (i.e. in private, without any members of the public which also includes concerned family members). If all matters are, however, agreed between the couple, the formal hearing is usually reasonably short.
The fact that the parties must have been living separate lives for a number of years before an application for a Divorce is made means that many separating couples obtain a Separation Agreement or a Judicial Separation to regulate matters between them before they seek a divorce. In a Divorce application, the court can review any previous arrangements made by separation agreement or judicial separation between the parties, particularly if the circumstances of either party has changed. Generally though unless there are substantial grounds, the courts are not inclined to visit the same matters again in a relatively short space of time.
When a Divorce is granted, it cannot be reversed. A Divorce allows both parties to a marriage to remarry or enter into a civil partnership. However unlike other jurisdictions Ireland does not provide a “clean break” and either party can apply to court to have any orders made under the decree of Divorce such as maintenance and access reviewed by the court.
It should also be mentioned that Divorce in Ireland is not based on fault. However the court is nevertheless entitled to consider the actions and behaviour of both parties.
The outcome of a Family Law case is not set in stone or based on set percentages as is often thought. There is a need for a flexible approach and it is important that a Judge can pay attention to the inherent varying circumstances in each case and provide a compassionate analysis where required and therefore it is not possible to sit down and calculate with mathematical certainty the outcome of Family Law disputes. In saying that there are well established guidelines laid down in statute and in judgments handed down by the court and a well experienced solicitor in this area will be able to properly advise you on the likely outcome of proceedings.
(c) Cosgrove Gaynard Solicitors. All rights reserved.