How to Apply for a Divorce in Ireland

Created: Nov 6, 2023 | Updated: Nov 6, 2023

No one goes into marriage looking to get a divorce from the love of their lives someday. However, sometimes, there are circumstances that force people to consider getting a divorce later on. We understand that this is not easy and we sympathize with you. In our little way of helping you through this, we would like to provide you with carefully curated advice to help you understand the legal process of divorce in Ireland while protecting your rights.

Divorce in Ireland

The realm of divorce is relatively new on the legal landscape in Ireland, as it was only legalized in 1996 after a referendum. The significance of divorce in Ireland is multifold, reflecting a seismic shift in societal attitudes and acknowledging the complexities of modern relationships. Once a land where marriage was indissoluble, the legal acceptance of divorce symbolized Ireland’s cultural evolution.

Divorce in Ireland isn't just about legally ending a marriage; it's about providing a lifeline to those in troubled waters. For many, it's the chance to unfurl their sails on a new course after being adrift in marital doldrums. It represents the legal acknowledgement that sometimes, despite the best efforts, couples may need to part ways to find their own paths to happiness.


Legal Requirements for Divorce in Ireland

Ireland like most countries has its set of specific requirements that must be fulfilled before granting a divorce. So before an Irish court can grant you divorce, the following requirements must be met:

  1. Residency Requirements: To start with, they will make sure you’re not just visiting for the fantastic stout and then asking for a divorce. At least one spouse must have lived in Ireland for a minimum of one year right before the application is made. So, if you’ve been enjoying the Irish rains and rainbows for that long, you’re good to go.
  2.  Grounds for Divorce: You can't also wake up one day and decide to divorce because you dislike your spouse's cooking. Ireland requires solid grounds. This means that there has to be no chance of reconciliation and you've been living separately for at least two out of the past 3 years. This separation can be under the same roof, by the way – it's more about physical and emotional separation, not just a change of address.
  3. Proper Provision for Spouses and Children: Ireland cares about the aftermath, especially for children. The court wants to ensure that both you and your children will be well taken care of post-divorce. This means figuring out your finances, property, custody, and every other family life arrangement.
  4. Consent or Contesting the Divorce: The process is smoother if both spouses are on the same page about this major decision and consent to the divorce. If one contests, you may need to brace yourself for a bit more of a legal tussle, requiring more time and possibly a detailed court battle to sort out the differences.
  5. The Role of Translation Services in the Divorce Process: If any of your important documents (like marriage certificates or financial statements) are not in English or Irish, you’ll need a certified translation in Ireland. And not just any translation, but one that’s up to the legal standards and not something you whipped up using an online translator.

Additionally,  if you or your spouse is not fluent in English or Irish, a translation service in Ireland might be needed during the proceedings to ensure everyone is on the same page, and the process is fair and square.


Preparing for Divorce in Ireland

Embarking on the journey of divorce in Ireland is akin to prepping for a trek up Croagh Patrick. It's wise to know what you're in for, have the right support, and pack the essentials. Let’s delve into the nitty-gritty of prepping for this life-changing expedition.


Counselling and Alternatives to Divorce

Before you pull on your hiking boots and set off, consider a less drastic path. Counselling might be what you both need to lead you back home. It's an opportunity to air your grievances, tackle issues with a professional referee, and find a way to mend fences. Who knows? With some expert guidance, you and your spouse might rediscover that old spark again.

There are also alternatives to divorce, such as ‘legal separation’ or ‘deed of separation', which might be better solutions if you’re not quite ready to cut the marital cord. Think of it as a trial separation where you can live independently without dissolving the marriage.


Legal Advice and Consultation

After giving counselling a sincere effort, if you both still find that the marriage isn't able to be healed, it may be time to seek legal advice. Chat with a solicitor who specialises in family law. They’ll give you the details regarding your situation, so you know exactly what terrain you’ll be navigating. A consultation with a legal expert can help you understand your rights, what you're entitled to, and how to protect your interests, especially if there are children in the picture. It's like getting a map and compass before you wander into the wild.


Legal requirements for divorce in Ireland


Gathering Necessary Documents

Then comes the paperwork. The kind that needs to be in tip-top shape for the courts. Here’s where you gather all the essential documents. It’s crucial to have these documents in order because they’re the foundation of your case. Here are the documents needed to process your divorce in Ireland:

  • Divorce Application Form: This is the official form to start the process, often referred to as a Family Law Civil Bill. You can get this form from the Courts Service of Ireland website or at your local Circuit Court office.
  • Marriage Certificate: The original or a certified copy, to prove that you’re legally married.
  • Birth Certificates of Children (if applicable): To verify the identities of the wee ones involved.
  • Proof of Address: Utility bills or a driver’s license should do the trick to show you’re residing where you claim.
  • Proof of Income: Recent payslips, a P60, or a statement of social welfare benefits to showcase your earnings or lack thereof.
  • Statement of Means: A detailed list of your income, assets, debts, and expenditures.
  • Statement of Welfare: A document concerning the welfare of any children involved, including their education, health, and overall well-being.
  • Sworn Affidavit of Means: Also known as Form 37A. It is a sworn statement before someone authorized to witness an oath, detailing your financial situation.
  • Sworn Affidavit of Welfare (if applicable): Similarly, Form 37B is a sworn statement about your children's welfare.
  • Pension Valuation (if applicable): To assess the value of pension rights, which might need to be divided upon divorce.
  • Property Valuation (if applicable): If you own property, you’ll need a recent statement of its value.
  • Separation Agreement/Deed of Separation (if applicable): If you’ve previously drawn up an agreement, bring it along.
  • Court Order Evidence (if applicable): Any previous court orders related to family law, like protection orders or maintenance orders.
  • Previous Correspondence: Any legal letters or documents exchanged between you and your spouse regarding separation or divorce.


Filing the Divorce Application

Your first task is to get your hands on the Divorce Application Form. This form is the beginning of your official divorce process. And as you fill in the blanks, you’ll be detailing the story of your marriage, from the beginning to where you are, presently. You'll need to include personal details, marriage information, the grounds for divorce in Ireland and the particulars of what you’re seeking in terms of assets, and custody. Please, take your time filling this form because any errors here could set you back.

With your form complete, you're ready to serve it up to the Circuit Court. If you’re in Dublin, that’ll be the Dublin Circuit Family Court, and elsewhere in the country, your local Circuit Court office.


Court Fees and Fee Waiver Options

In Ireland, there are no court fees for family law cases. So your divorce-related costs may be from the mediation process, divorce alternatives or from hiring a solicitor. However, the overall cost for an uncontested and uncomplicated divorce is between €2,000 and €4,000.


The Waiting Period

The waiting period in the Irish divorce process is a sort of intermission during a U2 concert – a break between the action where a lot happens behind the scenes. This is a legally mandated pause. Once you've filed for divorce, there's another pause, known as the 'cooling-off period', which is designed to give both parties some breathing space. It’s a chance to clear your head. During this time, you're encouraged to reflect on your decision and consider reconciliation before you fully commit to going your separate ways.

This intermission isn't for sitting idly by. It is meant for negotiating your separation agreement. This is the nitty-gritty part where you hash out the terms of your parting – who gets the dog, who takes the trip to Spain, and how the finances are split.

During this period, you may choose to use a divorce mediator in Ireland. A mediator can help you reach an agreement as neatly as possible.

If you manage to agree on everything, your separation agreement can be made legally binding. But if agreeing is difficult, then the court steps in during the divorce proceedings to make the decisions for you.




How Long Does the Divorce Process Take in Ireland?

The time it takes to get a divorce in Ireland in Ireland may vary between 12 months to 3 years, depending on several factors like whether it is contested or not.


Can I File for Divorce in Ireland if My Spouse Lives Abroad?

Yes, as long as you meet the residency requirements yourself.


What are the Legal Fees Associated with Divorce?

The cost of divorce in Ireland includes court fees and then attorney fees and in a contested divorce, all the other professionals that may be brought in. Family court fees are free, while the others are determined by the professional in question.


How is Child Custody Determined in Irish Divorce Cases?

The court will juggle a bunch of factors to decide, always putting the children’s welfare first. They will consider who the more responsible adult is.


Can I get a Divorce if my Spouse Doesn't Consent?

Yes, you can. Although it is tough, it is doable with persistence. You just have to show the court that you have grounds for a divorce.


What Happens if My Spouse Doesn't Comply With the Court's Decisions?

If your spouse refuses to comply with the court’s decisions, the court can hold them in contempt and the court can enforce orders.


Can I Remarry After Getting a Divorce in Ireland?

Absolutely! Once divorced, you’re free to remarry if you wish.


What Happens if I Reconcile With My Spouse During the Waiting Period?

If you reconcile with your spouse during the waiting period of your divorce process, this will be amazing! All you have to do is call off the divorce.


Are There Support Services for Those Going Through a Divorce?

Yes, there’s support for people going through a divorce in Ireland, from counselling to legal aid.

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