The process for getting a divorce in Ireland is different according to whether there is a mutual agreement or not. If both partners agree on the terms, then you can divorce by consent in Ireland.

This article explains the rules for divorces in Ireland, and how to get a divorce by consent, as well as outlining what happens if that is not possible.The fundamental divorce rules Whatever path to divorce you take, there are certain basic criteria that you must meet in Ireland.

These are:

1. At least one of you must live in Ireland

To get a divorce by consent in Ireland, or to go through the alternative steps, one or both partners must live in the country permanently. Or, at the very least, one of you must have lived in Ireland for 12 months before the application is made.

2. You must live apart
The two partners must have lived separately for at least two out of the three years before the application is made. (Before 2019 it had to be four out of the previous five years.)

It is important to note that this does not necessarily mean living at separate addresses. The Family Law Act 2019 indicates that the partners can share accommodation, as long as they’re no longer in an intimate relationship. This ‘intimacy’ is not just of a sexual nature either but refers to the level of commitment involved between the couple.

3. No prospect of reconciliation
For any path to divorce in Ireland, you will be asked to demonstrate there is no chance of you getting back together.

4. Separation arrangements
The final divorce rule is that all necessary arrangements must be made to care for both partners and any dependents (particularly children). How these arrangements are formulated is covered later in this article.

Mediation before divorce by consent in Ireland

When you reach the conclusion that a separation or divorce is likely, then going through mediation can be an important step.

It is possible that during the mediation process the practical aspects of your relationship are clarified, and you may even go on to rebuild your marriage. You could also use this process as evidence that there is no chance of reconciliation (see rule 3 above).

Mediation can also help you to come to an agreement on the terms of your divorce. This is then the central pillar of divorce by consent in Ireland.

What exactly is mediation? It’s not marriage counseling nor is it a way of reaching a legally binding agreement. It is a discussion, in the presence of a trained third party, to calmly sort through the practical aspects of a divorce. A solicitor can help you find a mediation service and will explain it in more detail. They can also provide you with a declaration that you have chosen mediation to support an application for divorce.

Application for divorce by consent in Ireland?

If you have managed to reach consent on the terms of your divorce – on your own, using mediation and with a solicitor’s help, one of you can then submit an application for Divorce. A Civil Bill is drafted by your solicitor which sets out the details of what has been agreed with regard to your family home, child custody arrangements, separation of finances and other divorce terms.

What happens next?

The Court will require both sides to submit affidavits which are called Affidavit of Means. It details all of a persons finances in terms of assets and liabilities.

If children are involved in a divorce by consent in Ireland, you would also both need to complete an Affidavit of Welfare. This sets out arrangements for the care of your children, including where they will live and be educated, and the custody and maintenance plans in place.

Last requirements for divorce

The final step towards securing a divorce by consent in Ireland involves some more paperwork from your solicitor. Once consent terms are agreed, your solicitor will lodge a document which is known as a
Notice of Motion. It is like a formal request from both partners, asking the Court to grant a divorce based on your mutual agreement of the terms. An affidavit will also be submitted, confirming that you have followed all the divorce rules in Ireland, and all the steps outlined above.

At this stage, there may still be more documents needed by the Court to grant your divorce. This is usually to finalize arrangements for complex issues, such as your pensions.

Once all the criteria have been met completely, the Court will grant the divorce.
What are the alternative ways to get a divorce?

If you can’t reach a level of agreement to support divorce by consent, in Ireland you have two other options.

* You can still settle this ‘contested’ divorce out of court, then apply for the divorce to be granted.
* If you can’t reach a compromise, then you can take a contested divorce before the Court, for a legal settlement of the issues and ultimately a divorce.

Both of the above are more complex and often involve much higher legal fees for divorce.

Is a solicitor required for divorce by consent in Ireland?

You have the option to represent yourself during the proceedings. However, it is strongly recommended that even with a divorce by consent, you secure the support of a solicitor experienced in family law in Ireland.

This is a complex and highly emotive journey, and the insights and abilities of a solicitor can make it much less stressful and confusing.