Separation Agreement: an attractive option for parties who do not wish to attend court twice
The Family Law Act 2019 reduced the time limit for divorce applications in Ireland. Parties must now only be living separate and apart for two years prior to divorce proceedings being issued as opposed to four years.
This reduction in timeframe for divorce may decrease the number of parties seeking a judicial separation as they will simply wait until they reach the 2-year timeframe for a divorce rather than incurring the expense of two sets of court proceedings.
In this regard, a Separation Agreement may be a more attractive option for parties who do not wish to attend court twice but seek clarity in the interim period before they are entitled to divorce.
A Separation Agreement is a binding contract upon each spouse and once entered, parties are precluded from bringing judicial separation proceedings.
A Separation Agreement may include provisions relating to:
- Custody and Access
- Income Tax
- Responsibility for Debts
- Succession Rights
- And other miscellaneous provisions
It is important to note that spouses cannot agree pension adjustment orders between themselves, thus retirement or contingent benefit orders cannot be included in a Separation Agreement. However, spouses may indicate in the Separation Agreement their intention to make certain pension adjustment orders within their divorce application but they will not be binding on trustees and may be reconsidered by the Court when revisited at divorce stage.
Further, a Separation Agreement is not binding on a Court in any subsequent divorce proceedings as the Court must be satisfied that proper provision has been made for each spouse.
The current Covid-19 crisis has resulted in limited court sittings, lengthy adjournments and economic concerns making a Separation Agreement an even more attractive option for parties who seek certainty in these unprecedented times.
If you have any queries in relation to this article or any other family law matter, please do not hesitate to contact Brendan Dillon on 01 296 0666.