Separation Agreements in Ireland

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Separation Agreements in Ireland


What Is A Separation Agreement?

Separation Agreements in Ireland are fully binding contracts between two separating partners or spouses. They agree the terms on which they will live separately, and are enforceable in the future if necessary.

When a relationship breaks down, there are immediate consequences for children and for how the family runs its financial affairs. A Separation Agreement allows a couple to decide together how to deal with these issues. Unlike divorce, there is no waiting period required. A couple can enter a Separation Agreement at any time after their separation.

The Separation Agreement will cover crucial areas like custody of children, access, the family home, and financial affairs and assets. It can be negotiated with the support of each partner’s solicitor or via mediators.

Why Do I Need A Separation Agreement?

When a married couple decide to separate in Ireland, they must wait 2 years before they can begin divorce proceedings. While they wait, they may need a formal Separation Agreement to deal with issues such as custody, maintenance and assets.

Separating couples who are co-habiting or are in a civil partnership can also use Separation Agreements in Ireland to cover these issues. The agreement will provide the structure for their lives after separation. It will also set out the division of assets and liabilities, just as it would for a married couple. This is especially important where there are children.

Advantages of A Separation Agreement

The main advantage of using into a Separation Agreement rather than going to Court is the process involved. Settling your relationship breakdown by agreement will nearly always improve future communication. This is because it involves a process of negotiation between the partners themselves, which allows them to reach agreement together. This kind of co-operation is essential when there are children involved.

The second advantage is control. The parties themselves are more in control of the agreement. They have room to be more creative and flexible in their negotiations than a formal court setting allows. This means that solutions to key issues such as custody or the family home aren’t imposed by a court settlement.

How Do You Get Separation Agreements in Ireland?

We can help you to negotiate a Separation Agreement and support you with advice throughout the process. The agreement will address all the key issues which are affected by marriage breakdown. These include arrangements for:

  • Custody, Access and future parenting of children
  • Maintenance
  • The family home
  • Other assets of the family, such as other property, savings etc.
  • Liabilities of the family
  • Pensions
  • Inheritance and Succession matters.

Is A Separation Agreement The Same As A Divorce?

No, a separation agreement is not the same thing as a divorce. Under the current legislation in Ireland, a separated couple must wait 2 years before they can start divorce proceedings. However, a separation agreement can be filed with the court. It can also form the basis of a final divorce settlement.

Ideally, if the couple can agree a Separation Agreement through mediation or negotiation, their future Divorce can be identical to the Agreement. Sometimes all that is needed is some tweaking for maintenance or access. As children grow, these two things should always be reviewed, as requirements will change over the years.

A carefully negotiated Separation Agreement can and should be the future template for the couple and their family, saving cost and reducing conflict.

If you need advice or support on separation or divorce, call Alan Finnerty on 01 637 6200. Or you can email him at

Contact Us


Orpen Franks Solicitors LLP

28 & 30 Burlington Road, Dublin 4, Ireland

Telephone: +353 1 637 6200

Facsimile: +353 1 637 6262