We hear stories and read about people (usually abroad) getting a “quickie divorce”.  In Ireland it is not so simple: sometimes Solicitors in dealing with separation proceedings will promote further business by saying that the divorce will be a simple “rubber stamp” procedure once we get all the details sorted at the separation stage.  

But it is not so simple.

Sometimes people’s finances change and some people gain and others lose in the time between a Separation Order and a Divorce Order.  Ireland as you know needs four years between the separation of the couple and an application for divorce.  Remember also that the door is always open for maintenance claims especially if there are children or a change in circumstances.  

Separation Agreements/Orders often make provision for what is called a Section 18(10) Order.  This is called a Blocking Order which prevents both parties from coming back to Court seeking a variation of the agreement they made at separation stage.  That is fine but  in practice Irish Courts see themselves as open to fairness and even though you might not succeed in getting a change in the previously agreed terms you at least will get a hearing before the Court in relation to your  application for variation.  

The classic case in this is where one party following a separation has won a Lotto amount.  In that case it pays the other party to make an application to say the circumstances are now different from the time of separation and they would like a share of the newly found wealth.  Pension are also another area that the Separation Order may not have made proper provision for one of the parties.  Questions are asked whether it was valued properly at the time of separation and since it is not paid out until the parties reach 60 and only then a portion of it, it is something that very often can result in a further Court application by one of the parties.

The Court system will put you through a process called Case Progression where each must list their assets at the time of divorce.  If this has changed since the time of separation there lies the problem for people disclosing new assets which they feel the ex-partner has no right to a claim on.

The best advice is to try and get the separation and divorce in the same application.  However if a couple are living apart and need initial Orders if children or family homes are concerned this is not always possible.  You will see now in the Media   there is a move to try and shorten the time after a couple separating when they can actually get a divorce.  At present it is four years.

The most efficient way to divorce is for both parties to agree a division of finances themselves and then apply for a divorce.  They can move swiftly up the list and make a consent application without the need for Case Progression and answer three questions under oath in the Court hearing after which the Judge can grant a divorce by consent.

As always if any of these issues have registered with you and you need further clarification please Contact Us Here