What is case progression?
In an attempt to relieve backlogs in the court lists and improve progress in family law cases, the courts services introduced a new step in family law cases called case progression. Both sides are brough before the County Registrar who checks to see if all the appropriate forms are filled out and information exchanged for the case to go to hearing. If one side is slowing the case down or dragging their heels the County Registrar has powers to make orders against the party who is delaying. This process was first tried out in a pilot scheme in 2007. It worked very well and was implemented everywhere nationwide for all new cases commenced after 1 October 2009. This new process will bring positive changes to applications for divorce in Ireland.
I did not want this divorce.
You can request from the outset that your spouse go to marriage counselling. However, if they are not willing to go and they are living separate from you for a period totalling or in excess of four years there is a very strong possibility that they will be granted a divorce.
I am worried my spouse will leave me with nothing.
Common urban myth. The courts duty is to provide proper provision for both spouses and any dependants. Invariably one side will not “get everything” or “clean the other side out” as many urban legends dictate. The court will have to make sure however that provision is made for any children or dependants such as children with disabilities whether they are young or adult. The severity of any disability or handicap will be an obvious source of concern for the court.
A dependant is any child under 18 years of age or any child in full time education up and until 23 years of age.
Does this mean that if my kids go to college I have to pay for them up and until they are 23?
Yes. If they stay in college or third level education until that age.
I am worried about being forced to pay my spouses legal costs.
At this point in time the courts generally do not order one side or the other to pay the other side’s costs for a divorce application. Although the court can order one side to pay the other side’s costs this does not happen in the vast majority of cases with divorce in Ireland.
The stress of all of this is just too much for me.
Separation and divorce is a very stressful event in anyones life. It can even be more stressful than the bereavement of a loved one. Accordingly, it is prudent to first seek the advice of your GP or family doctor in terms of strategies and treatments to deal with that stress. If something in the house needs fixing we call a repair worker. Yet when it comes to our own emotional and psychological well being people seldom seek the advice of medical professionals. I would reccomend watching your diet, excercise levels and health in general during a divorce. Take up sports or yoga with the advice of your GP. Mind your health. People in the States I find are more aware of this than when it comes to people going through a divorce in Ireland.
Can the court order me to sell my property?
Yes, amongst other assets where appropriate. In an application for a divorce in Ireland the courts can divide up pensions, order the payment of monies from one spouse to the other in various formats. The court can even transfer portions of a pension or pension benefits to the other spouse as it sees fit. However, it does not do so lightly and will only distribute assets where required to make proper provision for the parties and children involved.
I obtained a divorce this week and I am not happy with the courts decision.
Under the law there is a very strict time limit within which parties can appeal a court decision or court order. Seek immediate legal advice. Bear in mind that the courts are more inclined on appeal to make an order for costs against one spouse or the other depending on the outcome of that appeal. An appeal must be lodged wiithin 14 days of the order of the Circuit Court.
What happens if we are seperated four years but living under the same roof?
The court will need to hear evidence proving that there are two clear and separate households living under the same roof. For example if the parties were not sleeping in the same bed but were sharing dinners and household chores the court might be of a view that they are still
So what does this mean?
It means you have to be very sure that you are living separate and apart from your partner for four out of the last five years before appying for a divorce.
My spouses is violent or cheating on me. Can I not get a divorce for this?
No. Only if you are separate and apart from your spouse for four out of the last five years. However, violence and adultery can be taken into account by a court in terms of how the assets are divided if it is “gross and obvious” in nature. These are also factors of concern to a court in an application for a Judicial Separation in Ireland.
If you are a victim of Domestic Violence consult with the police and your local law enforcement agents immediately before taking any further steps.
Do I need a solicitor?
Under the law there is no obligation on either party to have a solicitor when seeking a divorce in Ireland. However, in cases where divorce is contested or there are issues over assets, or arrangements concerning the children then it is advisable to seek legal advice before bringing an application.
Remember, even if you have decided you do not want to retain a solicitor to complete your divorce you can at the very least get a consultation with a Solicitor to get all the basic legal advice before you decide to go your own way. Depending on where you reisde many solicitors offices charge between 50 and 100 euros for an initial consultation. Some specialist firms may even charge more.
Ho do I know if my solicitor works in family law.
Phone them and ask them. If they do not they might reccomend a colleague/colleagues. You can also ask your solicitor if they are trained as a collaborative lawyer and a mediator. This can be a good indicator as to how much family law work is completed by the solicitor in question.
Surely I dont need a barrister aswell?
It depends on the type of case and the circumstances. If there are complicated issues regarding property, access, pensions or maintenance, retaining a barrister might be advisable. Your solicitor will advise you on the facts of your case. In cases where there are complex issues even the most experienced of family law solicitors will bring an experienced barrister on board. This will give you an indication as to how technical the area can get. Many leading barristers are also trained as mediators.
But we do not have any assets or any issues over the kids.
Good. Then your divorce should not cost you as much as a contested divorce. Also it can be completed relatively quickly.
Can’t I just get a DIY Divorce so?
You can. Its a free country and you folks have a democracy in Ireland too. Remember if your Divorce goes wrong and doesnt work out you probably will have very little options in terms of recovering damages. With a DIY divorce you are responsible yourself and if it goes wrong the consequences rest with you alone. If you have kids, a house and a pension thats alot of responsibility.
How quickly can I get a divorce in Ireland?
If you live in Dublin the courts sit every week. Accordingly, people living in the Dublin catchment area can get a consent Divorce, where there are no issues, within two to three months from launching the proceedings.
In the rest of the country most circuits have family courts sitting about four times a year. Accordingly, to get a consent divorce in other parts of the country you sometimes have to wait three months or longer depending on when you apply. I have come accross consent matters that
have taken five months to rule as the application was lodged before the August court vacation.
How much will it cost me to get a Divorce?
It depends on the type of case and how much work is involved. If it is on consent and you retain solicitors it could cost you several thousand euro.
If it is a contested case and numerous matters are in dispute fees could start at five thousand euro and head into tens of thousands depending on how much work is completed and the value of the assets amongst other factors. Your solicitor will set out the basis they charge in a section 68 letter. As your case progresses they will be in a better position to give you firm estimates in terms of fees.
In the High Court some cases have gone on for days and fees have run to several hundred thousand euro.
What is the cheapest way to Divorce?
If you have issues to sort out with your partner go to mediation and reach a mediated agreement. Then both parties go to their respective lawyers and that agreement can be made legal and ruled in court on consent. Circumstances vary from cases to case. If you want the best way to get your divorce with the least amount of acrimony and covering all your legal bases, thats my best suggestion for value. That applies as a rule of thumb for any former colonialjurisdiction or empire in the world.
Also on average collaborative law is proving more cost effective than fighting contested divorce cases in court.
Going to court with lawyers costs money. However, depending on your circumstances it will probably be money well spent.