The Legal Effect of a Divorce

There are many legal and other consequences arising from a Divorce. It is a striking feature of the Irish Divorce legislation that the financial obligations of one spouse to another continue beyond the marriage, except in certain circumstances. There is really no such thing as a “clean break”. A clean break Divorce would be where the husband and wife are no longer dependant on each other by any means. Even though Irish legislation does not allow for a clean break, the courts have acknowledged that achieving finality and a clean break is desirable in situations where the family has enough resources to achieve this.
Where a court grants a Divorce, the marriage is dissolved and both the husband and wife are free to marry again.


One of the most heart wrenching aspects of a Divorce or Separation can be the fate of the children. Parents may hate the sight of one another but both may love their children and wish to have custody ie that their children are living with them and that they have day to day control. The welfare of the children should be the paramount consideration. Every case is looked at individually. The Divorce will generally end the husband or wife being regarded as a “spouse” but it will not automatically affect the right of the father and mother of a child to continue to be joint guardians of their child. A Court may declare that either the mother or the father is unfit to have custody of the children.

Family Home

One of the principal difficulties facing couples whose marriages break down is what happens to the family home. The issue of the family home or the family farm is at the centre of many of the legal disputes. On the granting of a Divorce, the court may grant a Property Adjustment Order. This Order might necessitate the transfer of the home from the husband to the wife or it might order the sale of the property. Generally, the court will take into consideration whether the mortgage was paid jointly and who paid the deposit, if any, for the house. Contributions to the home can also be taken into account. It is an important factor that young children may be living in the family home at the time.


It is important to understand that a husband and wife cannot agree between themselves, to divide a pension. Only the court has the power to make what is called a Pension Adjustment Order. Pension rights might include entitlements at retirement age or on the death of a husband or wife. There are generally two main types of pension schemes: Defined benefit and defined contribution. Pension Adjustment Orders may be made against those that are self –employed, that in non – pensionable employment, as well as against members of occupational schemes.  Pensions are very complex matters and you should take expert advice in this regard.


Once a divorce is granted, the parties are no longer spouses. Remarriage will revoke any will you have previously made unless the will was made in contemplation of marriage. Therefore, people that change their marital status should change their will.

Domestic Violence

A divorced husband or wife will retain his or her right to bring proceedings against a former spouse under the Domestic Violence legislation. There are a couple of different orders you can seek: a Barring Order, a Safety Order and a Protection Order. You should take legal advice in order to decide which order is appropriate to your circumstances.


Overall, the effects of a Divorce are far reaching. An Order of Divorce will most likely affect your home, your kids and your income for a very long time. There is considerable merit in making an informed decision ie that you take legal advice in relation to your particular circumstances so that you can make the best decision for you and your children