Marriage breakdown in Ireland is more common than you think so you are not alone. In Ireland, couples who find their marriage deteriorating can legalise and formalise their separation through different alternatives. These options include a separation agreement, judicial separation, divorce or annulment. When the couple has formally agreed to parting ways and has put this into writing, this document is called a separation agreement. When it is the court that approves of the separation, it will execute a decree of judicial separation. In judicial separation, both parties are not allowed to marry again or enter a civil partnership. When the court formally dissolves a marriage, it will execute a decree of divorce wherein both parties can remarry. Annulment is when the court nullifies or voids the marriage.
A separation agreement is a document stating that both the parties decide to live separately and that they both respect and follow the terms and obligations they have agreed to. This agreement is a legally binding contract and the Solicitors of both parties usually facilitate the discussions and consultations for this. If the couple has a separation agreement with them, they no longer have to elevate the matter to the courts thus lessening the stress and expenses of hearings.
On the other hand, judicial separation is a ruling issued by the court to make legal a couple’s parting of ways. To be able to obtain judicial separation, the court must be satisfied that there is reason for the separation and that the couple knows about counselling, mediation and negotiation, and the appropriate provisions that should be given to the dependents for their wellbeing. Once this decree has been handed down, the court will then make the necessary judgment regarding child custody, access, maintenance, and property issues.
Regarding divorce, the court will grant this provided the couple has lived apart from each other for four or more years when the application for divorce was made. Certain documents are required from the couple that details their lives, their children, and their awareness of other alternatives to divorce. Similarly, the court will then make the necessary arrangements regarding child custody, access to children, maintenance and lump sums, and property transfer. Divorce cannot be revered and when it is granted to a couple, they can marry again should they choose to.
Annulment is when the court rules that the marriage is null and void. In other words, the marriage never existed. In the case of annulment, there are two kinds of marriages. One is the void marriage and the other one is the voidable marriage. A void marriage is a marital union that never existed whereas a voidable marriage is a union that did happen but one party wants to have it annulled. This means no marriage has existed between the couple.
It is preferable and ideal for both parties to have a Solicitor when applying for any of these marriage breakdown options so that their rights can be fought properly and fairly. With a Solicitor, you are ensured that the best interests of both the parties and their children are upheld. It is also less costly if a Solicitor is used because this will expedite the court proceedings for the agreements.