Going to court to get a divorce

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Going to court to get a divorce

If you are making a joint application with your ex-spouse you do not need to go to court.

If you are making a sole application and your children are under 18 and were part of the family prior to separation, you must go to court unless circumstances stop you from attending.

Children and property

A divorce does not sort out issues relating to children or property. These arrangements must be made separately. However, when hearing your application, the court must be satisfied that proper arrangements have been made for the care and welfare of your children. The court will want to know where children are living and how they are financially supported, as well as information about their health and education and how much time they spend with each parent.

The court can reject a divorce application if it is not satisfied that proper arrangements have been made for the children.

What happens at court?

The court order for divorce is granted in two steps:

  1. A divorce order is made if you meet all the requirements and the court is satisfied that proper arrangements are made for any children of the relationship. This is a short-term order that ends the marriage. It does not give you a divorce completely.
  2. The divorce order usually becomes final one month and one day after it is made, unless the court is presented with a good reason for not granting the divorce within that time. The date the divorce order becomes final is the actual date of divorce.

In exceptional cases the court can order a shorter waiting period between the two steps.

A copy of the divorce order is sent to you by post. You should keep it in a safe place as it is your proof of divorce.


There is a court fee for filing a divorce application. See the Family Law Courts website for court fees.

If you are on a pension or benefit, or have a Health Care Card, then you can apply to pay the reduced fee. You can also apply to pay the reduced fee if paying will cause financial hardship. See the Family Law Courts website for the guidelines for fee exemption or reduction.

Get help

Find out how you can get help with separation, divorce and marriage annulment.

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