Irish Divorce

same sex divorce
Same-Sex Marriage and the Right to Divorce
February 10, 2021
collaborative law meeting
Collaborative Law & Divorce: What’s that?
April 6, 2021

Why would two people who no longer want to wake up with each other decide to remain married only in the legal sense?

In 1995, the people of Ireland approved a referendum by a vote of fifty-one to forty-nine percent to eliminate the constitutional prohibition to divorce. Prior to the bill’s 1996 enaction into law, many couples who no longer desired to live as married led separate lives in a marital status that commonly carried the tongue-in-cheek label Irish Divorce. 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.

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, such a strategy is sometimes exercised here.

Separation vs. Divorce

Why would two people who no longer desire waking up with each other decide to remain married only in the legal sense? Some reasons involve religious considerations, healthcare coverage, children, and finances.

  • RELIGION A common rationale for remaining married while living apart has to do with religious tenets against divorce. The Roman Catholic Church’s prohibition of divorce without an annulment can influence people’s decision to remain wed. Other cultures and religions adhere to a similar moral code.
  • 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 of mom and dad as still married even if they are not living 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.

If you are looking for a divorce or legal separation rather than an “Irish divorce,” learn more in The Courtless Divorce book or schedule a free consultation with a New Jersey mediator or collaborative lawyer.

Comments are closed.

Free Consultation


Lost your password?

Create an account?