Divorce and Separation

The core difference between a divorce and separation, is that a divorce allows individuals to remarry. A divorce is more final. The issues are difficult to change later on, even after your circumstances may have changed.

For example, you may wish to change custody or maintenance arrangements if your ex-partner moves or re-marries. So, you would need to go back to court to change these terms.


a) Separation Agreement:

When a married couple or those in a civil partnership decide to live separately following the breakdown of their relationship, they can enter into what is called a ‘Separation Agreement’. The key point here is that it is an agreement between the parties, and they must consent to the terms of this agreement.

For example, issues such as custody, access, maintenance and the division of their assets can be agreed upon by way of negotiation facilitated by their solicitors.

If a consensus can be reached a Separation Agreement is then drawn up for the parties to sign and this is known as a ‘Deed of Separation’. This is a common way for couples to finalise their separation and is generally less stressful than proceeding to court. A Deed of Separation is a legally binding contract, and its main purpose is to clearly set out both parties rights, duties and obligations to each other.

A Deed of Separation can be made a rule of court once a formal application is made.

b) Judicial Separation:

In the event that a couple cannot agree terms of separation, either party can apply to the Court for a decree of Judicial Separation. Before granting a decree, the Court needs to be satisfied that there are sufficient grounds, the parties have been advised of the availability of mediation and if there are dependent children, that proper financial support has been provided.

If granted, a decree means that the couple are no longer required to live together as a married couple. Other issues such as custody, access, maintenance or the transfer of property can also be ordered by the Court. It is important to note that a Judicial Separation does not give the right to either party to remarry.

c) How to Get a Separation Agreement:

To seek a separation, you have two options. Firstly, a couple can set out their own Separation Agreement. This process will be quicker, and less emotionally and financially draining.

The separation agreement needs to cover the division of property and any other assets, pension provision and inheritance rights. If a couple have children, custody, access, and Guardianship must be addressed. Maintenance can apply to both spouses and children.

If a couple cannot reach agreement on these issues, they must seek to separate by Order of the Court.

If a couple is married, they will likely need to go through a separation, and divorce. In Ireland, married couples must wait 2 years before they are permitted to apply to the court, to divorce. This is quite a long period of limbo. So, most couples seek a separation to gain clarity on aspects like assets and custody. Only the Courts can finalise a divorce

2. Co-Habitees

These are either same-sex or opposite sex couples who are living together in an intimate and committed relationship, but they are not civil partners nor are they married to each other.

In the case of co-habitees, they do not have the same right to inherit that civil partners and married couples enjoy. To qualify as a co-habitee you must have been living as a couple for a period of two years or more where you and your co-habiting partner are the parents of a dependent child or alternatively five years or more immediately preceding the end of the relationship.

Once a person can show that they are a qualified co-habitee, they can make an application to the Court for provision similarly to the manner in which a spouse can seek redress under the Family Law legislation.

3. Divorce

Before applying for a Divorce, it is essential that the parties have been living apart for two out of the previous three years, be permanently resident in Ireland or have lived in Ireland for at least one year prior to the application being made. Furthermore, there must be no chance of reconciliation.

Once all necessary documentation has been finalised and filed with the Court, a hearing date will be given. All divorce hearings are held in private. On the date of the hearing the Court will decide if there are sufficient grounds to grant a divorce. This decree means the marriage is officially dissolved and you are free to remarry.

The timeline for a Divorce varies – depending on mutual terms of consent or going to Court. 

4. Same Sex Couples

In consideration of same sex couples, a civil partnership registration scheme was introduced in Ireland in 2011 and a right to marry was passed by way of a referendum in 2015.

Same sex couples can also live as co-habittees.

The cost of taking a Personal Injuries claim will always vary and is dependent on a number of factors, including the complexity of your case and the time taken to bring it to a conclusion. We will be happy to provide an estimate of fees once we have spoken with you and reviewed your case.

It is important to note that solicitor’s fees may not be calculated as a percentage of any award or settlement you receive. Any fees charged will be on the basis of the work undertaken by your Solicitor in undertaking work on your case.

The concept of the ‘no win, no fee’ fee arrangement is a common one amongst Solicitors in Ireland. This can often be known as a ‘no foal, no fee’ arrangement. This means no legal charges apply should your case not be successful. On the other hand, if your case is successful either by way of settlement outside of court or in front of a judge in court, then legal fees will apply. Solicitors can enter into no win no fee agreements with clients; however, they are strictly prohibited from advertising no win no fee services.

This is the most common question our clients ask us. More often than not, it can be a difficult one to answer at the early stages of the process as there are so many varying factors to take into account. It can be useful to review ‘The Book of Quantum’ utilised by The Injuries Board which sets out the range of compensation payable for all kinds of injuries

Most Personal Injury cases are settled within 18 – 24 months of commencement however this can vary depending on the complexity of your case. If the person responsible for your injuries does not accept liability for your accident it can take longer.


Most compensation claims are lodged in the Injuries Board seeking an assessment of the award payable to you. Once your claim is lodge the defendant has up to 90 days to respond to your application.

The Injuries Board process can result in award of compensation. It is essential to have a Solicitors advice in making your decision about whether to accept or decline that compensation award.

Family Law.

Divorce and separation are highly stressful life events, for couples and any children involved.

Thomasina Connell & Co. Solicitors have extensive experience in all aspects of Family Law. We seek to assist you, in an empathetic and sensitive manner. Our aim is to help you find the quickest, most cost effective and practical solution.

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The core difference between a divorce and separation, is that a divorce allows individuals to remarry. A divorce is more final. The issues are difficult to change later on, even after your circumstances may have changed.

Read More »