When a couple gets a decree of divorce their marriage is dissolved and they are no longer legally married. They are therefore free to remarry. Unlike separation, the spouses alone cannot agree to divorce, court approval is needed to dissolve the marital union.

Ireland has a no-fault divorce system, meaning that no element of fault needs to be proven in order to apply for a decree of divorce. As a result, it is possible for a divorce to be granted in circumstances where one spouse is absolutely opposed to it, once the three requirements for a divorce are met.

Grounds for a Divorce

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

  • The spouses must have been living apart from one another for two out of the previous three years on the date the divorce application is made. Note that before the introduction of the Family Law Act 2019, this was 4 out of the previous 5 years.

The Family Law Act 2019 also clarifies that ‘living apart’ includes couples who live in the same house but are not in an intimate and committed relationship. The Act also states that a relationship does not stop being an intimate relationship just because it is no longer sexual in nature. 

  • There must be no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.
  •  Proper provision must have been made, or will be made, for the spouses and any dependent children of the parties.

To ensure that such proper provision is made, the court is empowered to make parenting and financial orders at the time of the application, or prior to the hearing and at the substantive hearing of the divorce application.

Ancillary orders can include orders relating to custody of children and access to them, maintenance and lump sum payment orders, the transfer of property and pension rights, and the extinguishment of inheritance or succession rights. In any application for a decree of divorce, the court can review any previous arrangements made by the couple such as a separation agreement, particularly if the circumstances of the parties have changed.

Once these three grounds are satisfied, the applicant has a right to a divorce.

When a decree of divorce is granted, it cannot be reversed.

Repeat applications for ancillary relief are permitted, not only at the time of the decree being granted but also any time thereafter. Either party can therefore apply to the court for new orders or to have any orders made under the decree - such as maintenance - reviewed subsequently by the court.


  • The Legal Aid Board has produced a useful overview of the process of divorce, including information on the divorce application process and the powers of the court, namely the orders that may be made by the court. 
  • FLAC has also produced a comprehensive information leaflet on divorce. This leaflet explains the nature of the remedy of divorce and provides information on the application process and requirements, including details relating to securing a foreign divorce. Importantly, it also provides direction for negotiating the terms of divorce on a consent basis either by mediation or collaborative law.
  • The Citizens Information website provides further information on divorce in Ireland, including information on the rules for getting a divorce and the application process.
  • TUSLA, the Child and Family Agency, with the support of Barnardos, have created a number of very useful leaflets for parents and children on how to cope with the breakdown of a marriage:







The Legal Aid Board

+353 (0) 66 947 1000  

Locall: 0818 615 200 



Quay Street, Caherciveen, Kerry

V23 RD36

Free Legal Advice Centres

+353 1 906 10 10




85/86 Dorset Street Upper, Dublin 1, Ireland, D01 P9Y3

Family Mediation Service

01 874 7449


01 874 7446






4th Floor

Jervis House

Jervis St

Dublin 1

D01 E3W9

Child and Family Agency - Tusla

General enquiries: 01 7718500


Reporting a concern:


You must report your concern to the area where the child lives. Contact details for the Tusla social work areas are available .



National Office:

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Heuston South Quarter,

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Dublin 8.

D08 X01F

Citizens Information

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Accord Catholic Marriage Counselling Service

01 505 3112 




Central Office,

Columba Centre,


Co Kildare

W23 P6D3




One Family - National Organisation for One-Parent Families

01 662 9212




8 Coke Lane, Dublin 7, Ireland D07 EN2Y







University College Cork

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College Road, Cork T12 K8AF