Every year in Ireland, nearly 5000 married couples, on average, seek to get formal divorce. There are several ways to formalise the separation. Four prominent options for couples to get legally separated in Ireland, are – Annulment, Judicial Separation, Separation Agreement and divorce. Before getting a separation, it is important to choose the right way to end the marriage. Choosing the right procedure can make the process easier to handle and at the same time save time and money.
Understanding the Difference between Divorce and Legal Separation
Divorce is the ultimate way to end a marriage between two spouses but they get the chance to remarry in future. On the other hand, in legal separation the court outlines the rights and responsibilities of individual spouses living apart. They remain legally married even if they choose to live separately. Under legal separation couples cannot remarry until they are divorced as technically they are still married. Issues that can be addressed during legal separation in Ireland involve child custody and child support, division of assets and debts, spouse support, previous financial payments and maintenance cost if any.
Through legal separation it is possible to protect the interest of the spouse until they decide to file a divorce. The case goes to the court when a divorce is filed after a separation. The legal separation agreement is carried over to the divorce settlement agreement.
Ways to Achieve Legal Separation
There are essentially two chief ways to achieve legal separation. One way is to execute a Deed of Separation whereby both parties get independent legal advice. The terms of agreement can be adversarially negotiated between the lawyers. It can also be a part of Mediated Legal Separation by using the benefits of Mediation and Law. Mediated legal separation is the least costly and also the easiest way to get legally separated. However, such a solution is not suitable for cases dealing with intimidation or domestic violence.
Another way to get legal separation is through the order of the court. This is popularly known as Judicial Separation where the terms of legal separation are determined by the judge. There are several grounds to apply for judicial separation which are as follows:
One spouse should have committed adultery
One spouse should have behaved unreasonably for which it has become difficult for the other spouse to live with him or her
One of the spouses deserts the other one for at least one year at the time of application of legal separation
The spouses have lived separately from one another for at least three years till the time of application for legal separation
If the court considers that there is no normal marital relationship between the spouses for at least one year before the application of legal separation.
The document of Deed of Separation outlines the ways in which a couple can include specific details on the maintenance, property, pension and custody. The deed should be signed by both the spouse along with a witness in a formal legal document. To follow the right procedure and avoid any form of future confusion consult a family law solicitor.
Basically there are three ways to determine the Specifics of Separation
1. Spouses can work together through mediation in order to reach agreement which will be included in the legal document at a later stage
2. Solicitors appointed by each spouse can act on behalf of him or her and work to reach agreement. The adversarial negotiation process is finalised by the Deed of Separation or a Judicial Separation on consent
3. The Judge can take the initiative to solve the matter after determining the details of the case if the parties fail to agree on the terms of their separation
Legal separation in Ireland can be obtained even without visiting court. With the help of this process it is possible to save time and money. Not only that, it leaves the separated spouses with a better future relationship.