What is divorce?

A Decree of Divorce dissolves a marriage and allows each party to remarry.

Can I apply for a divorce?

Before a Court can grant a divorce, the following conditions must be met:

  • At the date of the institution of the proceedings, the spouses have lived apart from one another for a period of, or periods amounting to, at least two years during the previous three years
  • there must be no reasonable prospect of reconciliation and
  • proper arrangements must have been made or will be made for the spouse and any dependent members of the family.

Can other matters be dealt with at the same time?

Yes. Additional (ancillary) Orders can be applied for in the process of divorce. These would include custody/access to children, maintenance, the transfer of property and the extinguishment of succession rights. If a Pension Adjustment Order is required you must secure a Court Order to bind the Trustees of the scheme.

To commence proceedings

Proceedings are usually commenced in the Circuit Family Court. This is done by lodging a Family Law Civil Bill in the appropriate Circuit Court office.

The Family Law Civil Bill sets out the main points of the Applicant’s claim, details of the legislation under which the Applicant is making his/her claim and the Orders (or reliefs) being sought.

Where financial relief is sought the Applicant must file an Affidavit of Means, However, most Court Offices insist on an Affidavit of Means being filed irrespective of whether or not financial relief is being sought. Where there are dependant children an Affidavit of Welfare must also be filed. Some Court Offices also require a certificate to say that alternative dispute resolution has been considered as an option. If the Applicant is claiming a Pension Adjustment Order a Notice to Trustees must also be filed and served.

Service of proceedings

A copy of the Family Law Civil Bill, Affidavits of Means and Welfare (as appropriate) are served by the Applicant on the Respondent in one of the ways allowed by the Court Rules. Particular rules apply if you want to serve documents in another country.
If the Respondent lives outside the European Union you must apply to Court, before you issue the Family Law Civil Bill, for leave to issue and serve the necessary documents outside Ireland and for directions as to how you must serve them.

Entering an Appearance/Lodging a Defence

The Respondent normally has 10 days from date of service of the Family Law Civil Bill to enter an Appearance and a further period within which to file a Defence if they so choose.

Case progression

If the Respondent files a Defence with the Circuit Court Office a case progression summons will be sent to both parties directing them to appear before the County Registrar. The purpose of case progression is to prepare the proceedings for trial.  Thereafter the matter will be listed for trial or ruling before a Judge.

Other documents

For the hearing, in addition to the documents previously mentioned, you will need your State marriage certificate (a church certificate is not acceptable).

Copies are available from the General Register Office

phone: 1890 252 076 or

If there are existing Court Orders or written agreements affecting any aspect of the marriage these will also have to be produced.

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