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Family Law

There has been increasing complexity of legislation and case law in the area of family law in Ireland in recent years. Due to the significant changes in both international and domestic family law legislation the requirement to seek professional legal advice is of the highest importance to both parties contemplating a separation.

The breakdown of a marriage or relationship is a complex and sensitive issue, giving rise to a wide number of unresolved issues, for example the potential division of property and assets, payment of maintenance and issues relating to the future care of children. The protection of the best interests and welfare needs of children in family law proceedings are always of primary concern.

Family law in Ireland is a complicated and emotive area. The decision by both parties to seek a separation or divorce will obviously have legal and financial repercussions for both parties. Buckley & Company provide top quality legal advice arising from our vast experience in family law matters. Our efficient service is delivered in a timely and prompt manner, bearing in mind at all times the sensitive nature of most issues at the heart of family law.

Family Law Services

Buckley & Company offer a range of services in the area of family law. We provide detailed and professional advice in a range of family law areas including:

>> Nullity

>> Separation Agreements

>> Judicial Separation and Divorce

>> Division of Assets

Nullity

The law of nullity is concerned with the legal validity of a marriage at its onset. When a court declares a marriage a nullity it is stating that a couple were never legally married. A marriage can be declared a nullity where some vital component is missing such as consent to marriage. The Family Law Act 1995 gave the Circuit Family Court jurisdiction in nullity matters resulting in a more accessible and affordable separation resolution for many couples. A marriage can be declared void if one of the following broad criteria is met
  • Non-observance of formalities
    • Lack of capacity
    • Either party is already legally married
    • Same sex marriages
    • Either party is under 18 years of age
  • Lack of consent
    • Mental incapacity
    • Intoxication
    • Fraud
    • Duress and undue influence
    • Limited purpose marriages

Separation Agreements:

A Separation Agreement is a deed of separation which is drawn up agreeing the terms of a separation. A separation agreement will usually set out the agreed arrangements for living apart, as well as formal provisions with regard to the division of assets, property and payment of maintenance and custody of children. The terms of the agreement are signed by both parties and are legally binding. A separation agreement does not give the separated parties the freedom to remarry, however divorce proceedings may be contemplated or filed for at a later date.

Judicial Separation and Divorce:

A marriage may be dissolved by law whereupon either spouse will be free to remarry on the granting of a decree divorce. The granting of a decree of judicial separation differs from the granting of a divorce by taking into consideration the element of “fault”. A judicial separation decree is granted if any of the following criteria is met:
  1. The respondent has committed adultery.
  2. The respondent has behaved in such a way that the applicant cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent.
  3. There has been desertion by the respondent of the applicant for a continuous period of at least one year immediately preceding the date of application.
  4. The spouses have lived apart from one another for a continuous period of at least one year immediately preceding the date of the application and the respondent consent to a decree being granted.
  5. The spouses have lived apart from one another for a continuous period of at least 3 years immediately preceding the date of the application.
  6. The marriage has broken down to the extent that the court is satisfied in all the circumstances that a normal marital relationship has not existed between the spouses for a period of at least one year immediately preceding the date of the application.
On the 27th of November 1996, the Family Law (Divorce) Act, 1996 was passed and the legislation came into operation on the 27th of February 1997. In order to obtain a divorce the following conditions must be met:
  • Spouses must have been living apart for at least 4 out of the last 5 years.
  • There is no reasonable prospect for reconciliation.
  • Provisions regarding the support and the well-being of the spouse and any children are in place.

Solicitors Obligations:

The law also imposes certain obligations on solicitors for both the applicant and the respondent. These duties include discussing with the client the possibilities of reconciliation, mediation or the possibility of achievement of separation by means of a deed or arrangement other than the issuing of court proceedings. Clients are always advised such that these obligations are adhered to and, should the case proceed further, will continue to be advised in an expert, efficient manner.

Division of Assets

If an agreement cannot be declared prior to court proceedings the court will look at the totality of all assets owned by both parties before deciding on a fair division. The totality of asset may include but not limited to family home, investment properties, share portfolios, life insurance plans, savings, family cars, pension, family farm or family business etc. The courts primary concern when deciding an equal division is the welfare of dependent children. Following this the spouse’s welfare is taking into consideration. Before declaring an equal split of all assets the court is directed to take into account certain criteria including:
  1. Length of marriage
  2. Age of spouses
  3. Financial obligations or needs spouse are likely to have in the future.
  4. Current and potential financial resources owned by each party
  5. Future loses
  6. Any social welfare payments either spouse will be entitled to.
The division of assets in non-marital relationships differs from marital separation agreements as cohabitants are treated less favourably in the courts in terms of maintenance, cohabitant pension entitlement, succession rights and property division.

Buckley And Company specialises in providing family law advice in all areas of family law.
Contact us today for further information.

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