5 important questions if getting a divorce in Ireland or a legal separation

Over the past 15 years while helping people who were seeking separation or divorce advice, I came to realise that there was a lack of factual information available for members of the public. The unfortunate result of this has been misinformation and confusion about the legal process of separating or divorcing.

I have written this paper which includes the  questions most frequently asked by men and women considering separation or divorce.

In my experience these are the queries which most frequently arise for 

clients who are considering separating or divorcing their spouse.

Solicitor for divorce or seperation in Ireland

Having read our free guide you enter discussions with us better prepared and much more knowledgeable, you can and will be advised by us on the all the finer points that are unique to your case. This gives you the opportunity to reach an informed decision about your best course of action at the minimum cost possible.

Costs for legal separation and divorce in Ireland

If your case is very straightforward, no pensions are involved and everything is agreed before coming to us then it is likely that your costs for a divorce would be very reasonable.  The more complicated and time consuming your case is, the more it will cost. 

Every case is different. At our first meeting, I will give you an estimate of the likely legal costs for your case based on the various scenarios which might occur. 

If early agreement is not possible then your costs will increase. Going to court will increase costs further. While some cases are straightforward, many cannot be resolved with a settlement meeting or entering into communication with the other side.  

We recognise that legal costs must be transparent and estimate legal costs in a clear manner at the start of every case and we will advise you as to the likelihood of recovering legal costs from the other side which is the exception rather than the rule in legal separation and divorce in Ireland cases.

Our emphasis is on bringing value to clients and achieving an excellent result.

We offer practical and constructive advice to clients which helps them to resolve their legal issues in a fair and reasonable manner and to get on with their lives.

Settle your case if possible 

In almost every single case it is in the client's best interest to make a fair settlement at the earliest opportunity rather than get involved in expensive protracted court appearances. There are alternatives to court which should be considered such as mediation, collaborative law and straight forward settlement of cases. 

In his legal separation or divorce in Ireland cases for self- employed business people or when acting for husbands or wives of business people or professionals with a high net worth, Keith will work with a well-established team of forensic accountant, barrister, auctioneer and pension specialist. In more straightforward cases where a person is a PAYE employee such a team is not needed and cases where both husband and wife are employees can progress quickly.

Keith acts for those seeking recognition of a foreign divorce, seeking a relocation from Ireland with their children or in other international family law cases. One problem that he sees at the moment is refusal by the Registrar of Marriages to recognise divorces granted abroad and he has helped a number of clients to regularise their foreign divorces and have them recognised in Ireland. They can then go ahead and get married again. 


I have been separated from my husband for over 20 years, we never signed any papers or went to court. I think I am in the same position as someone who is legally separated, why would I bother getting legally separated at this stage?

There is a huge difference between being legally separated and just living apart. The main benefit to both of you in getting a legal separation is that if one of you dies then as part of the legal separation it is usual that the surviving spouse would not be entitled to part of the deceased spouse’s estate. However if you are not legally separated or divorced then your husband or wife has a legal right to part of your estate. This right is even greater if you do not make a Will as special rules apply which favour the surviving spouse. Other very important reasons to get a legal separation are:

  • to deal with access and custody of the children and most importantly where they will live and with whom and to assess the level of maintenance.
  • to make clear who owns what property and to deal with all assets such as savings, shares as well as liabilities such as loans and mortgages.
  • to protect any assets or property you may buy or receive after the date of separation, these can specifically be dealt with in the legal separation.

TIP: just because an asset (e.g. bank account) or property in the sole name of one spouse it does not mean that the other spouse has no claim on the property or asset. Likewise there is no automatic presumption that all property will be divided on a 50/50 basis, it is up to the Court or you to decide how the assets and debts will be divided.


What is the difference between being divorced and being legally separated?

If you are divorced you are free to marry again. If you are separated you are still married and cannot remarry.

TIP: although you must be living apart for 4 out of the previous 5 years in order to able to get divorced. Time spent living separate and apart under the same roof counts towards the 4 years apart.


Why would I bother getting legally separated if I cannot remarry?

Divorce is only available if the husband and wife have lived separate and apart for 4 out of the last 5 years. The Courts have interpreted this as meaning that the couple can live separately and apart under the same roof but the marriage must have been over for at least 4 years.

A legal separation is important as it deals with all the financial issues and means that you can get on with your life relatively soon after your marriage has ended. Otherwise you would have to wait for 4 years after the marriage had ended to get a Divorce.

TIP: A divorce after a legal separation should be much more straightforward than a divorce where there has been no legal separation. A legal separation allows you to get on with your life and property can be sold as part of the settlement, issues regarding what’s best for the children decided as well as maintenance and pension issues.


My wife says the marriage is over and wants to separate but I would like to save the marriage.

Usually if one person in a marriage decides it is over then it is over. Things to think about are whether you both could go to relationship counselling together or separately or whether it is possible to discuss the problems. There is no point in rushing into a separation until you are sure that the marriage is definitely finished. Marriage breakdown is hugely stressful and it is a good idea to have someone to talk to during this time whether it is a counsellor or friend or relative.

TIP: Do not rush into legal separation or divorce. Think about all options including marriage counselling, mediation. Legal separation or divorce in Ireland should be the last resort.


I feel that I behaved badly during the marriage and now I feel guilty and don’t want to look for anything from my husband in the separation

Nobody involved in separation or divorce, whether the lawyers or the Judges is interested in punishing people for past misbehaviour. Misbehaviour is only an issue where it is gross misbehaviour which goes beyond arguing, beyond being out late, beyond being a workaholic, beyond adultery. A normal reaction to the whole separation is to wish to end the process quickly by giving in to the demands of your spouse to give yourself a quiet life. This is a disasterous approach to take in the long term as you will find yourself not properly looked after. Separation should be about finding a reasonable solution to the problem, not about one side bullying the other or about one spouse giving in to all the demands of the other.

TIP: Be fair, do not be too hard on your husband or wife. Do what is best for the children. Move on.