Irish Divorce

The Words of Marital War
March 8, 2024
Chose the Wrong Spouse? Don’t Pick the Wrong Mediator
March 21, 2024

Some Couples Live Separate Lives but Remain Legally Married

By Michael Heath

Until November of 1996, it was illegal for couples in Ireland to divorce one another. This caused many couples in failed marriages to move on without the benefit of the court bringing the union to a legal end. Although legally married to each other, the two people often established separate households with new mates and sometimes started second families. The uncoupling was complete in every way, except in the eyes of the law.

It is not entirely uncommon for couples in the United States to live their lives as if divorced, even though they continue to be married. Such an arrangement sometimes carries the tongue-in-cheek label of an Irish Divorce.

Why Couples Stay Married Even If They Appear Divorced

Although divorce in the United States was more difficult to obtain years ago (courts considered the dissolution of a marriage “against the public interest”), divorce was never illegal in any state. Since the practice of Irish Divorce has never been forced on any miserable US couple like it was in pre-1996 Ireland, some spouses see the arrangement as having advantages.

Why would two people who no longer desire waking up with each other decide to remain legally married? Following are some reasons:

  • RELIGION A common rationale for remaining married while living apart has to do with religious tenets against divorce. The Roman Catholic Church prohibits divorce without an annulment which often influences followers to remain wed. Other cultures and religions adhere to similar moral codes.

  • HEALTHCARE People often ask if they divorce, will they still have access to their spouse’s health benefit plan. The answer is no. Insurance companies only allow benefits to a legal spouse, not an ex-spouse. With the escalating costs of health benefits, remaining on a husband’s or wife’s insurance policy can be an incentive to stay out of divorce court.

  • ENTITLEMENTS Certain benefits, such as Social Security and pensions that provide payments to a surviving spouse, continue to exist in a married but separated status. Divorce can nullify the entitlement.

  • CHILDREN The kids are another factor to consider. Some offspring may like the idea that mom and dad are married even if they do not live under the same roof.

Together but Separate

Divorce is too often an expensive and messy affair. The costs of hiring lawyers, dividing assets, and selling a family home might be too much to bear for some couples and their children. If there is no intention by either spouse to remarry, then staying legally married might make the most financial and emotional sense. If the couple decides that separation will be permanent, then obtaining a separation agreement is advised. Issues like division of debt, child custody, and support, and property ownership should be put into a legal document. A mediator can assist with this, although it is recommended that both spouses show the agreement to their respective lawyers before signing off.

Comments are closed.

Free Consultation


Lost your password?

Create an account?