More frequently asked questions about divorce in Ireland

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.

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