The ending of a marriage is a life-changing event, affecting you, your spouse, your children, and also impacting on your financial future. It can be difficult to approach such situations objectively and without emotion, and so the first step is to seek professional legal and financial advice so that you can consider your options and the implications for you and your family on separation.
Divorce or Legal Separation?
Where your marriage has broken down, you can deal with this by way of Legal Separation or, Divorce and there are 3 main ways to achieve this:
- If a married couple can agree the terms by which they will live separately, they can sign a Separation Agreement (also known as a ‘Deed of Separation’), which is legally binding.
- Where a married couple have been separated for over a year, but cannot agree the terms by which they will live separately, either spouse can apply to the Court for a Decree of Judicial Separation and the Court will make Orders relating to their children, property, pensions, and other financial affairs on separation.
- Where a married couple have been separated for over 2 years, and would like a more final decision that would also enable them to remarry in the future, they can apply to the Court for a Divorce Decree and again the Court will make Orders in relation to their children, property, pensions, and other financial affairs.
When separating, there are many issues to consider to include:
- Children – If you have children who are still dependant (under 18 years or under 23 years if in full time education, or, if they have a disability), decisions have to be made about where they should live, access arrangements between parents, and also financial arrangements for their financial maintenance and support (to include education, extra-curricular activities and health expenses). Both parents have an obligation to provide financially for their children.
- Spouses’ living arrangements – Decisions on where each spouse will live after separation, and financial arrangements so that they can both live independently, will be required.
- Property – Decisions on how the spouses’ family home, and any other property, monies or investments/shares should be retained, sold or divided will be required.
- Debts & Liabilities – Where there are debts such as a mortgage or other loans, arrangements need to be made so that these do not fall into arrears, and to decide which spouse will take responsibility for these.
- Pensions – If either spouse has a pension, then these funds also need to be considered, and how they should be retained or divided between them when it comes to retirement age.
In Ireland, the Courts generally adopt a ‘no fault’ based approach in making decisions on the affairs of separated couples. This means that past behaviour is usually not taken into account in deciding the issues we have outlined above. The focus is instead on ensuring there are fair and proper arrangements for all the family, and prioritising the best interests of any dependent children.
Mediation can be a very effective, time and cost efficient method of reaching agreement with your spouse on the above items, which Mediated Agreement can then be used to finalise your legal Separation Agreement, Judicial Separation or Divorce proceedings. Both spouses must be willing to engage meaningfully in the mediation process in order for it to work, and it is also important that the agreed Mediator is qualified and experienced in the area of family mediation.
Court proceedings can be fast-tracked if agreement is reached between the spouses at an early stage, either by way of successful mediation or negotiations between them and their legal team.
At Cashin Clancy Solicitors, we are experienced in the Family Law/Divorce and if you would like detailed advices in relation to your circumstances, contact us on 065 6840060 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and visit our website www.cashinclancy.ie for more information about Family Law, Divorce and Separation.