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Divorce in Ireland: Division of Assets

Divorce in Ireland: Division of Assets

divorce in Ireland is concluded in accordance with the provisions of the civil legislation. Although this is a delicate matter, persons involved in such an event should be familiar with the procedure and legal actions they can follow in this case. Our divorce lawyers in Ireland can explain each step that is involved in this procedure.

One of the aspects the spouses will have to settle during a divorce is the way in which they will divide their assets, a procedure which is regulated by the Irish legislation. Persons interested in the division of assets during a divorce can receive assistance from our Irish lawyers, who can offer legal advice on how a spouse should act in order to receive his or her claims. 

 Quick Facts  
  Conditions for divorce in Ireland

The spouses must live apart for at least 2 of the 3 previous years and must be permanently based in Ireland or having lived in the country for at least 1 year before application

Applying for a divorce
in Ireland 

An application is made by either spouse to the court for
a decree of divorce

Separation agreement

 A legally binding contract setting forth the rights and obligations upon ending the relationship
Judicial separation
in Ireland
A decree that stipulates that the two individuals are no longer obliged to live together as a married couple
Required documents Application form, sworn affidavit of means, sworn affidavit of welfare, the original state marriage certificate
Child maintenance 

Described in the affidavit of welfare. Under law, both parents have the duty to financially maintain the minor child

Family home treatment

One spouse is prevented from selling, transferring, leasing the family home without the other's consent

Property adjustment order in Ireland Is the decision issued by the court in regards to who has the right to live in the family home and under which conditions
Pension adjustment order When the court decides that the pension of one individual is to be shared with the former spouse or any dependents
Child custody One parent is granted custody in case of divorce or judicial separation. The other parent is granted access at times. Joint custody is possible.
Factors considered for the division of assets The financial situations of each of the spouses is taken into account before the court decides on the division of assets
Recognition of foreign divorce in Ireland If the divorce was granted in a country where one or both countries were domiciled. Exemptions can apply and former spouses can apply for recognition with an Irish court
UK divorce recognition
in Ireland
The Withdrawal Act allows for the continued recognition of divorces and separations granted in the UK
Mediation services from our specialists Yes, upon request
Divorce representation from our lawyers in Ireland Yes, complete legal assistance and representation
in divorce cases
When to use mediation  As a first step in negotiating the terms of the agreement 

Documents to submit when the divorce in Ireland is contested (you do not agree) 

 Appearance, Defence, Affidavit of Means, Affidavit of Welfare, Document certifying being advised on mediation

 Court hearing date

Issued after the submission of the document 

Court hearing type   Private
Can be joined by a chosen party 

Yes, the court can allow you to be accompanied by another person during the proceedings 

 Documents to submit when the divorce is agreed upon

The Family Law Civil Bill (application form), the Affidavit of Means and of Welfare, separately for each party, and other documents as needed 

 Interpreter during the court proceedings

 Your solicitor can inform you on the need and the possibility to use an interpreter in court if needed

 Case progression

Overseen by the country registrar 

 Circuit Court Rules questionnaire

Filled in by each party, it is detailed and allows the Court to identify the issues (both the agreed and the disputed ones) 

Initial hearing  Takes place before the county registrar, after the issuance of the court proceedings 
 Matters discussed during the initial hearing

Further pleadings (if any), vouching, discovery, expert reports, etc. 

Preparations for the family law hearing 

Prepare the documents with the help of your divorce lawyer in Ireland 

Attending the hearing 

Your case may go through a call-over on the scheduled day (a check to determine if the case is ready to go ahead or not); if all is in order, you will be called to the appointed court for the hearing. Taking pictures or recording is not permitted. 

Special consideration for the children 

Coping with the breakdown of a marriage is difficult for the parents and the children alike; careful consideration is recommended according to the age of the child or children 

 When to contact our divorce lawyers in Ireland As soon as you decide to separate or divorce (even if you did not reach a mutual agreement on this matter with your spouse) 

The new Family Law in Ireland

In 2019, Ireland amended the Family Act and some of the most important changes have been brought to the legal proceedings associated with divorce. According to the new act, Section 5 of the Divorce Act now provides for shorter periods of living together for spouses seeking divorce. Under the new Decree, this period was reduced from 3 to 2 years. Also, the law now provides for new provisions on the dissolution of civil partnerships.

Even if no alterations were brought in relation to the division of assets, it is best to request the opinion of our divorce lawyers in Ireland if you intend to apply for a judicial separation or even divorce. They are experts in divorce law in Ireland and can assist you through thr entire procedure.

Legal options to end a marriage in Ireland

The divorce law in Ireland offers several possibilities to end a marriage, in accordance to the couple’s situation. You can opt for one of the following legal procedures:

• separation agreement – applicable when the two parties can reach an agreement upon the terms of their separation;

• judicial separation – a procedure applicable when the couple won’t agree on the terms of the separation; either party can file to the Irish Court for a decree of judicial separation, which can be provided if the couple can attest that they’ve tried mediation and counseling. 

• divorce – each party will be represented in an Irish court by a lawyer and the decree of divorce will enforce both parties with the right to remarry, but also to the rights and obligations that arise in case the marriage resulted in children; as such, the court will establish the custody, the terms of alimony and the share of the assets. You can find out more from our team of divorce lawyers in Dublin, Ireland.  

Conditions to obtain a divorce in Ireland

Under the new Family Law, the conditions for obtaining a divorce in Ireland have not changed, however, it is important to note that a resolution in such a case will not be issued by the court unless a few requirements are fulfilled. First of all, at least one of the spouses must have lived in Ireland for at least one year at the time of the application. This means that foreign citizens residents of Ireland can also be granted a divorce in this country and even benefit from the regulations related to the division of assets. Our divorce lawyer in Dublin can tell you more about this matter, as he is an expert in  divorce law in Ireland.

Another condition is for the spouses to have lived apart for at least 2 years, which means they must have been married for a minimum of 3 years before the application is filed. This is a significant improvement, considering that under the former law, the minimum periods were 4 years for filing the petition and 5 years of marriage). The spouse filing for divorce must also prove there is no ground for reconciliation, as well as proof of making the necessary arrangements for dependents to be taken care of (in most cases children). It is also possible for the spouses to agree on how the division of the assets will be made.

In case you need advice on how to arrange the terms of the divorce and division of assetsour law firm in Ireland can offer it.

You can read about the divorce procedure in Ireland in the infographic below:


Division of assets in Ireland – how is it established?

There are several ways through which the division of assets can be made after a divorce in Ireland. The first one is through a prenuptial agreement, however, this must be concluded prior to the marriage taking place.

With respect to the division of assets upon divorce, the parties can agree before going to court or the judge can make a decision and rule in this case. It is important to understand that the court will also have the interest of other family members considered dependents when ruling over the division of assets. In most cases, children’s interests stand at the base of a decision.

Our Irish divorce lawyers can help you draft an agreement through which an arrangement on the division of assets is made.

We invite you to watch the following video on the divorce procedure in Ireland:

Factors influencing the division of assets in Ireland

There are a few important aspects when getting a divorce in Ireland and the necessity of dividing the assets. No matter if this is done by the parties or by the court, there are two important elements that need to be respected: the division must be equal and equitable. When establishing that, the parties or the court will consider children (their number and their age), if any of the spouses is a dependent, if any of them had a greater contribution to the estate, and if any prenuptial agreement was concluded.

When children are involved, the court will divide the assets in a manner that advantages them. For this, proper accommodation and living conditions must be in place for them. This means that the primary care-giving parent is entitled to a larger share of the estate. We remind that the children in Ireland are considered dependents up to the age of 23 if they are enrolled in full-time educational facilities.

Then, if any of the spouse is considered a dependent (significant proof of that must be produced), or has health issues, additional support or a higher maintenance can be imposed by the judge.

If a party has contributed more than the other to the estate, he or she can be entitled to a larger share upon the division of assets.

Another important aspect is that the goods obtained by each spouse outside the marriage will not be considered for the division of assets in Ireland.

If you are considering a divorce and need assistance, our Irish law firm has a team of attorneys specialized in divorce law in Ireland and can offer assistance in various matters. Among these, child custody and alimony, division of assets and maintenance and support of dependents. Also, should you want to get married and prepare a prenuptial agreement, our divorce lawyer in Dublin can draft it.

Disclosing financial assets in Ireland 

The first step in the process of dividing the assets is the disclosure of all the financial assets owned by the two spouses. In this sense, they are requested to declare the following aspects by subscribing the original documents: their assets, income, pension and life insurance

In the situation in which a party refuses to disclose the information, the other party is entitled to file in the court for an order of discovery of documents, but only after the procedure for judicial separation or divorce has started; our team of Irish lawyers can offer you legal assistance in this sense. 

A particular issue when determining the division of assets is sorting the manner in which the family or the shared home will be treated after the divorce or separation.  In Ireland the family and the shares home are two distinct types of properties, as described below by our divorce lawyers in Ireland:

The family home is the one in which the formally married couple lived. In most cases, the home will ne owned by both spouses (although there may be cases in which only one of the former partners owns the home).

The shared home is the one in which civil partners reside and it can also be held in the name of one or both partners.

The Family Home Protection Act 1976 and the Family Law Act 1995 are both relevant for the manner in which protection is provided in cases of divorce so that one of the spouses may not be at a loss in matters related to a joint home. The legislation prohibits one of the spouses from selling, leasing, mortgaging or transferring the family or the shared home without the consent of the other. It is also possible for a spouse to ask for a court order that will prohibit the other party from engaging in any action that can reduce the first party’s interest in the shared home or, alternatively, make that home unsuitable.

The legislation is particularly important in those cases in which the home is not jointly owned and it provides protection for the party who is not an owner from losing the right to live in a previously shared home. The property adjustment order can be applied in this particular case in which there is the need to clearly determine what will happen to the party that did not own the family or shared home after separation or divorce. The property adjustment order can be applied for at the same time when applying for the decree of divorce, dissolution or judicial separation.

For the purpose of this order, the court will take the following into consideration: who has the right to live in the family or shared house and for how long, who has the ownership rights in the home and, when these are joint, what share of the rights is owned by each spouse or civil partner.

In determining who has the right to live in the home (and the duration of the stay), the court will generally award this right to the spouse who will live with the child or children until the youngest of them reaches the age of 18 or 23. This is important as it will provide a sense of stability for the children whose parents have separated.  It is also important to note that the court may decide to provide for an exclusion order for the spouse or partner who is leaving the family or shared home. This means that the court decides that the former couple should not share free access to the house (it does not need to imply that the individual who is leaving had an unacceptable conduct). Our team of divorce lawyers in Ireland can give you more details.

The distribution of pensions after divorce in Ireland

Another area of particular interest after divorce, apart from the issue concerned the shared family home, is the manner in which pensions are assessed during separation or divorce. According to law, namely the Family Law (Divorce) Act 1996 and other laws, the court can decide to treat one party’s pension as an asset that can be divided into appropriate shares. This can be the case when one of the spouses has a substantial pension and the other a modest one or has no pension at all from not having worked (they had worked in the home during the marriage). In this case, court may decide that the spouse who has the larger pension will pay part of it to the spouse or to a dependent child. A pension adjustment order can be made only concerning the cohabitant and not the dependent child.

As far as pension funds are concerned, the court may order part of a pension fund to be split and placed in another pension fund in the name of the receiving spouse or partner.

The court will ask both parties to provide complete information on their pensions and refusal do so allows the court to verify the information directly from the trustees of the pension scheme (according to the Pensions Act 1990).

Before submitting a pension adjustment order, the court will take into consideration all the financial resources available to both former spouses or partners. The distribution of pensions after divorce can be a particularly complex matter as different types of these are to be taken into consideration (occupational pensions as well as pensionable pensions, for example those for self-employed individuals, as well as personal retirement savings accounts). Our divorce lawyers in Ireland can help you with additional information on these.

What are the statistics on Irish divorces? 

Compared to the European average on divorcesIreland has one of the lowest divorce rates. In 2018, the country registered a total of 21,053 marriages (out of which 20,389 were opposite-sex marriages and 664 same-sex marriages), as stipulated by the data provided by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) in Ireland. When referring to the divorces registered in Ireland, the following are available: 

  • at the level of 2016, Ireland had a total of 73,208 divorced persons
  • the number refers to Catholic persons, out of which 43,308 were women;
  • the divorce rate available for 2016 was of 4,1%, which represented an increase of 0,5% compared to the divorce rate registered in 2011;
  • at a national level, the divorce rate stood at 4,7% in 2016;
  • in 2015, Ireland registered 0,7 divorces for every 1,000 persons living in the country; 
  • the highest divorce rate is registered in the county of Carlow (116 divorces per 100,000 persons);
  • in Dublin, the country’s capital city, the divorce rate is of 104,8 per each 100,000 persons. 

According to the data offered by the Courts Service in Ireland, the country registered a total of 4,100 divorce applications; the lowest divorce rate registered in this country is the country of Kilkenny, where the divorce rate stood at 45,4 per 100,000 persons. 

It is necessary to know that persons can file for divorce in Ireland if they can make the proof that they have been living separately for at least four years at the moment when the divorce application is made; our divorce lawyers in Ireland can assist with more details on other requirements necessary when filing for divorce here. 

Division of assets in Ireland

As a general rule, the parties involved in a divorce in Ireland can settle upon the division of assets by negotiating on them through a mediation process. Only if this method fails, the court will take action and analyze in details the value of the assets held by the two spouses. The court will take into consideration a wide set of factors when deciding the way in which the assets will be divided, as prescribed by the Divorce Act. The court will have to decide on the aspects such as:

  1. the income and lifestyle the spouses had until the moment of divorce;
  2. the financial resources they will have in a near future;
  3. financial needs of both of the spouses and the standard of living before the divorce;
  4. the age of the spouses and the duration of the marriage, as well as the spouses’ general conduct;
  5. the accommodation needs each of the spouses will require after the separation

The decision on the manner in which the division of the assets will take place in Ireland will also be based on other aspects. For example, spouses involved in a divorce should also be aware of the fact that the court will be entitled to further examine the private life of the two persons, in order to settle the case.  

For example, the court will examine the financial obligations the parties have at the moment when they have filed for divorce in Ireland, but also their financial obligations in the near future. The court will also be interested in knowing if any party has any physical or mental disability, but also the contributions brought by each spouse to the marriage; our divorce lawyer in Dublin, Ireland can offer more information on any additional matter that can influence the way in which the division of assets will be handled here. 

As a general rule, it is necessary to know that the Irish legislation stipulates that assets that were inherited by a spouse will not be considered joint assets, but exemptions from this regulation can appear in practice. It is necessary to know that a spouse who divorced his or her partner no longer has succession rights on the other partner’s assets, in the event of death. 

Once the divorce decree was issued, the succession rights no longer apply, but the divorced partner can file an application with the purpose of obtaining a small share of the property; this can be done in a limited period of time and only as long as the surviving former spouse can make the proof that he or she has been living alone, and did not enter a new civil partnership or did not remarry; our divorce lawyers in Ireland can offer more information concerning this rule of law. 

Former spouses who have shared a business can rely on the assistance of our accountants in Ireland. We provide complete solutions for limited companies, can assist those who wish to transfer the company to a new ownership and help business owners sort through the mandatory annual reporting requirements. You can reach out to us for more information about our services. 

What are the regulations concerning title deeds in Ireland? 

In most of the cases, spouses divorcing will try to obtain various ownership rights concerning a real estate property where they lived together while being married. In Ireland, in the case of a real estate property that has in its title deed only the name of one person, that respective person is considered the owner of the property. 

This means that the other partner does not have direct ownership rights on the respective property, but he or she can obtain a share of the property; this can be done if the person can demonstrate that he or she has made some significant contributions to the respective property (participating with money on the down payment of the property, mortgage installments or even various household payments); our divorce lawyer in Dublin, Ireland can assist with more details. 

It is necessary to know that even though the name of a spouse is not mentioned in the title deed, the person can be entitled to obtaining up 45% from the value of the property, as long as he or she can demonstrate his or her contribution to the purchase of the real estate property. This is available only if the person has paid half of the mortgage value; other relevant matters concerning the rights of a spouse in this given situation can be presented by our team of divorce lawyers in Ireland.   

If you need further information on the division of assets in Ireland, please contact our law firm in Ireland for assistance or legal representation in front of an Irish court. Our divorce lawyers in Ireland can assist with more information on the applicable legislation and can represent parties who want to file for divorce in this country.