General Legal Advice on Marital Breakdown – Judicial Separation and Divorce:

Q
What is a Decree of Judicial Separation?
AThe Court has power to grant a decree of Judicial Separation on a number of grounds including adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, existing separation or where a normal marital relationship has not existed for at least one year prior to the application. These provisions are contained in the Judicial Separation and Family Law Reform Act, 1989 (the “1989 Act”). An Applicant must prove their case to the Court on the balance of probabilities and the Respondent spouse may defend and counterclaim. When a decree of Judicial Separation has been granted the court has power to make ancillary relief orders in relation to custody of dependent children, the family home, maintenance and financial provision, among other matters. A decree of Judicial Separation can be sought in the Circuit Court or the High Court. Many cases are settled before the case is listed for hearing or on the day the case is due to be heard.
Q
What is a Decree of Divorce?
AA decree of Divorce will only be granted by the Court if a couple have “lived apart” from each other for a period or periods amounting to four years out of the previous five years. Living apart is not defined and can in very limited circumstances include spouses who live apart in two separate households but under the one roof. There must also be no prospect of reconciliation and proper financial provision must either be in place or be put in place by the Court. The Court has power to make a variety of financial relief orders including orders in relation to the family home, other property, maintenance, pension and life insurance.
Q
What are the Do(s) and Dont’s?
AThe process of separation or divorce can be difficult and stressful. The following may be helpful to you:

  1. Do remember that although you may no longer be together, you will always both be the children’s parents. Put the children first.
  2. Do keep the door open to dialogue.
  3. Do substitute politeness if love is gone.
  4. Do be aware of the positive benefits of counselling in helping you cope with your changing relationship with your spouse.
  5. Do be ready to compromise – an agreement between you is more likely to work than an order imposed by the Court.
  6. Don’t tolerate threats or violence. Ask how the law can help protect you.
  7. Don’t manipulate your children or encourage the children to take sides.
  8. Don’t sign or agree to anything without legal advice.
  9. Don’t let your spouse undermine your confidence in your legal team.
  10. Don’t expect the best of yourself or your spouse – aspire to reasonableness.
  11. Don’t leave confidential documents where they can be found.