Is DIY Divorce right for me?

Whilst few people would disagree that there can be no substitute for professional legal advice when considering a divorce, time constraints and financial situations may make this impossible. With professional legal fees running into €1000s, our customers are discovering that they can achieve the same results at a fraction on the cost through a DIY Divorce.

Provided that the conditions set out in the Family Law Divorce Act 1996 are met, any married persons can obtain a DIY divorce in Ireland no matter what their circumstances. However, a case's circumstances can greatly influence how straight-forward a divorce will be.

Take the suitability test by answering a few simple questions. Your suitability score will be calculated automatically at the end of the test.

DIY Divorce Suitability Test

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Do you have any dependent children with your spouse?

A dependent is a person under the age of 18; or person under the age of 23 and who is in full-time education; or person who is mentally or physically disabled.

Is there any disagreement regarding the custody of the child/children?

Is there any disagreement regarding visitation rights to the child/children?

Is there any disagreement regarding maintenance payments for the child/children?

Do you or your spouse currently own the home in which you both lived as a married couple?

Is there any disagreement regarding the future of the family home?

Is there any disagreement regarding the division of assets or debts?

Does either you or your spouse have a pension?

Will a Pension Adjustment Order be sought for each pension held?

A Pension Adjustment Order is an order for payment of all or part (commonly a negligible part) of one spouse's pension to the other spouse.

In the past 4 years, have you lived for any length of time in the same house as your spouse?

Do you know your spouse's current address?

Is your spouse's address in the Republic of Ireland?

          

A score of /10 suggests that you are a candidate for a DIY Divorce.

What may affect a timely, straight-forward divorce

When there are issues relating to custody and access

Married parents are automatic joint guardians of their children and have the legal responsibility for their upbringing. A divorce does not affect either parent's duty of guardianship. In most cases, by the time separated parents decide to initiate divorce proceedings, they have already come to an agreement, whether formal or informal, regarding the day-to-day care and upbringing of the children, as well as with whom the children normally live. For those parents who are satisfied with these arrangements, a DIY divorce is appropriate. If either parent is dissatisfied with the current arrangements regarding custody of and access to the children, and no amicable agreement can be made, the court will make a decision based on the best interests of the children. A custody order and/or access order will be granted. It is still possible to obtain a DIY divorce with custody and/or access orders attached, though it will be a little less straight-forward than if arrangements have been agreed in advance.

Where there are issues relating to maintenance or assets

Maintenance payments may be made by one spouse for the benefit of the other spouse and/or their dependent children, either in the form of a lump sum or periodical payments. For spouses that have already settled on a satisfactory maintenance agreement or spouses that do not seek any maintenance from the other spouse, a DIY divorce may be worth considering. However, if either spouse is dissatisfied with the current state of affairs, a DIY divorce may not be ideal. It should be noted that a divorce does not negate a spouse's obligation to support the other spouse or their children and either party may apply for a maintenance order (or a variation to an existing maintenance order) at any time - even after their divorce.

When there is a family home

A family home is the dwelling in which a married couple ordinarily resided. If agreement cannot be reached as to who will occupy and own the family home, the court can make an order in relation to it, specifying who has the right to live there and for how long and what proportion of the home does each spouse own. A court can otherwise order that the house be sold and the proceeds divided equally or in whatever shares it considers fair. A DIY divorce would be more suitable to those that have already agreed on the future of the family home.

When spouses have pensions

After the family home, a pension is usually the most valuable asset. Like any other asset, it may be divided between spouses in whatever proportion is appropriate. Spouses who have agreed in advance how any pensions will be divided are more suitable for a DIY divorce than those who have not. In many cases, the court will not grant a decree of divorce until the issue of pensions has been dealt with. Similar to maintenance orders, a revision of a pension adjustment order can be sought at any time after a divorce.

When spouses share a home

In the current economic climate, some separated spouses share the same home, through financial necessity. This does not preclude them from obtaining a divorce, though it may complicate matters somewhat. The court may accept that in certain circumstances spouses live apart from each other even though they are living under the same roof. There must however be compelling evidence to establish that they have been living separate lives and essentially operating two separate households in the one property. For this, elements of separation must be present. The action of separating must involve an open and complete break from the marital relationship and may include:

  • the ceasing of sexual activity
  • living in separate rooms
  • operating separate bank accounts
  • not sharing meals
  • not providing household services
  • not sharing entertainment inside or outside the home
  • not representing to relatives, neighbours or friends that the marriage is continuing

If the parties contend that they have separated even though they still live under the one roof they may have to give the court evidence of this. It is often difficult to prove this so it should be kept in mind that it will be ultimately the Judge’s decision.

When a spouse's whereabouts is unknown

For applications where a spouse's current address is unknown, an ex-parte application will have to be made with the County Registrar, who will most likely instruct the applicant to place an advertisement under Legal Notices of a national newspaper. This can cost between €1000 and €3000 and so we strongly advise all applicants to make every effort to secure an address for their spouse before starting proceedings. Sometimes, the County Registrar may decide that it is acceptable to use the address of a close family member instead, but in our experience, this does not happen often.

When a spouse lives in another country

There is no significant difference to the divorce procedure when a spouse lives in another country. However, the spouse is allowed additional time in order to respond to the proceedings. Therefore, in this situation, the divorce may take up to two months longer to be finalised. Depending on the court to which the application is submitted and in which country the spouse lives, a separate application may have to be made to allow the serving of the divorce documents outside the jurisdiction.