Legal Update – Divorce Living Apart Requirement Reduced to 2 Years


The Government has commenced legislation reducing the requirement for spouses to live apart for a minimum of four years out of the preceding five before they can be granted a divorce.


From 01 December 2019, the Family Law Act 2019 reduces the minimum living-apart period specified in the Family Law Divorce Act 1996 to two years during the previous three years.

This reduction of the living apart period follows on the heels of a referendum on Divorce, held in May 2019, in which 82% voted in favour of such changes.

No doubt a huge relief to the many couples who are currently going through the Family Law Courts, O’Brien Murphy Solicitors particularly welcomes the fact that the legislation also provides that Judicial Separation applications currently before the Courts can be converted to a Divorce application where the mandatory two-year period has already expired.


What is Divorce?

Divorce permanently dissolves a marriage. Unlike separation, Divorce requires court approval and allows both spouses to remarry should they so choose. To file for Divorce, one must meet the following basic conditions:

  1.       No chance of reconciliation – Divorce will only be granted if the Court is satisfied that there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation between the spouses.
  2.       Living apart rule – both spouses must be living apart for two out of the last three years. Thankfully, the term ‘living apart’ has been interpreted quite a broadly and includes those who live under the same roof but who lead separate lives (e.g. if both sleep apart and organise their finances separately).
  3.       Proper provision must be made – proper provision is a very lose term and is decided on a case-by-case basis. Among other considerations, the Court will look to the income and earning capacity of both spouses, the financial needs and obligations of each spouse, and the standard of living of both spouses. The Court will also ensure proper provision is made for any dependent children they have.
  4.       Irish Residency – One spouse must be living in Ireland for the Courts to consider an application for Divorce.

Although many couples enter into a separation agreement or seek a judicial separation, it should be noted that neither of them are required for an application for divorce. However, if an agreement has been entered into prior to seeking a Divorce, the Court can reverse or change any clause of any agreement – especially if the circumstances have changed significantly.

 Get in Touch

The process for obtaining a divorce can be quite complex, not only because it is an emotionally-charged period for all those involved, but because it also involves complex issues such as custody and access to children, inheritance rights, maintenance and lump sum payments, property matters, and pension rights, to name but a few. For that reason, it is in your best interests to speak to a solicitor with experience representing those who are going through a Divorce.


At O’Brien Murphy Solicitors, we know that the breakdown of any relationship can be a devastating experience and can be a time of great upset and distress for everyone involved. If you are facing the difficult decision to Divorce, our team of expert Divorce solicitors are here to provide you with practical and easy-to-understand advice on all aspects relating to Divorce.

If you would like to discuss how we can help you or if you would like to avail of a free, no obligation consultation, call O’Brien Murphy Solicitors on (01) 874 6959.


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