Family Law

Family Law

Tierney Law Firm offers reliable advice and guidance for your most personal legal challenges, with the least possible impact on your emotions and wallets.
Family Law is a deeply complex area which can involve high levels of stress, worry, fear and animosity if not dealt with appropriately.
Tierney Law Firm understands that there are few matters more complicated, emotional and personal than those related to personal and family legal disputes.
We are conscious of the sensitive nature of family-related disputes. We navigate clients towards appropriate solutions with discretion, respect and sensitivity.
Where possible, we endeavour to resolve disputes before they reach a Court so as to retain amicable relations between the parties and to keep legal costs to a minimum.
We encourage all clients to attend mediation, where possible.
Civil Partnership Dissolutions
• Cohabitation
     • Custody, Access & Guardianship
• Divorce
•  Domestic Abuse
• Judicial Separation
• Maintenance
     • Separation Agreements

Tierney Law Firm

Civil Partnership Dissolution

Civil partners have broadly the same rights as married couples in areas such as maintenance, the family home, pensions and succession.

To dissolve a civil partnership:
i. The parties must have lived apart for at least two years during the previous three years.
ii. Proper arrangements must have been made or will be made for the civil partners.

You may make a Cohabitants’ Agreement with your partner to make provision for the financial arrangements in the event of a break -up of the relationship. For such an agreement to be valid, the following conditions must be met:

  • Each of you has received independent legal advice, or you have received legal advice together and have waived the right to independent legal advice;
  • The agreement constitutes a contract and complies with contract law; and
  • The agreement has been signed by each of you.
You may contact out of the redress scheme with a Cohabitants’ Agreement. Although they are enforceable by the Court, a Court may set them aside or vary the agreement if the enforcement of the agreement would cause serious injustice.
This is a difficult time and Tierney Law Firm’s mission is to make such a dissolution as smooth and as bearable as possible for its clients.

Cohabitants do not possess the same legal rights and obligations as married couples or civil partnerships. Cohabitants are defined as two same-sex or opposite-sex adults who are:

  • Not married to each other; and
  • Not in a registered civil partnership; and
  • Not related within the prohibited degrees of relationship; and
  • Living together in an intimate and committed relationship.
To qualify you must be cohabiting for:
  • Two years, if you have dependent children; or
  • Five years, in any other case.
Each case is determined upon its own circumstances. A Cohabitants’ Agreement can be entered into if an agreement can be reached between the parties. If not, an application can be made for determination by the Court within two years of the termination of the relationship. If a Court is satisfied that it is ‘just and equitable’, it may make certain financial orders – such as a transfer of property, maintenance or pension payments
Custody, Access & Guardianship

Guardianship describes the legal responsibility of parents to make decisions and perform duties in relation to their child’s upbringing

Married parents are automatically joint-guardians of their children and any subsequent breakdown in the marriage will not change this. A father who is not married to the mother of his child does not have an automatic guardianship right to the child. However, if an unmarried father has lived with the child’s mother for 12 consecutive months after 18th January 2016, including at least 3 months with the mother and child following the child’s birth, he will automatically be a guardian. If this is disputed, there is an application that can be made to the Court. In fact, there are a number of ways of achieving the same, and we are here to advise on the appropriate steps.

Custody refers to the day-to-day care, residency and upbringing of dependent children. The children reside permanently with the parent who has custody, and the other parent is granted access to the children at agreed times, which does include overnight access, where agreed. It is possible for parents to continue to hold joint-custody of their children after a separation or divorce and for the children to enjoy an equal amount of time with each parent if this can be agreed between the parties.
Access is the right of a child to maintain direct contact with the parent with whom the child does not reside. It can include overnight stays on alternate weekends or during school holidays, and for a parent and child to go on holidays together. If agreement cannot be reached, an application can be made to the Court for access to the non-custodial parent.

Similar to a Judicial Separation, the Court is interested in proper provision existing for both parties and the best interest and welfare of the children being maintained. To be eligible for divorce:

i. One or both parties must be habitually based in Ireland for at least one year prior to commencing proceedings
ii. Parties must have lived separate and apart for 2 out of the previous 3 years before filing for divorce
iii. There is no prospect of reconciliation

It is Tierney Law Firm’s mission to make this difficult time in your life as smooth and gentle a process as possible.
Domestic Abuse
Three Orders may be granted by the Courts:
Safety Order
Barring Order
Protection Order

Safety Order – A Safety Order prevents a party from committing further violence or threatening violence against another party. The party against whom the Safety Order is granted is not required to leave the family home.
Protection Order – Pending a Court hearing, the Court can, upon an application for a Safety or Barring Order, grant a Protection Order immediately. It has the same effect as the Safety Order until the full hearing of the Barring or Safety Order.
Interim Barring Order – This is granted in exceptional cases where evidence is produced to the Court of an immediate risk of significant harm to the persons applying, and a Protection Order would not be sufficient given the circumstances.
Barring Order – A Barring Order requires the person who the order is made against to leave the property and to remain away from the property.
The following may apply for such an Order from the Court:

  • Spouse – husbands or wives
  • Cohabitees – persons living together for at least 6 months during the 12-month period before the application is made to the Court for protection. In relation to a Barring Order, the cohabitees must have lived together for 6 months during a 9-month period before making such an application. A court will not grant a Barring Order against a cohabitee who is the owner of the property or who has greater ownership rights than the cohabitee seeking such protection.
  • Parents – against their children over the age of 18 years.
  • Coresidents – persons living together in the same residence may apply for protection against each other once they are over the age of 18 years. A Safety Order is the only protection available in such circumstances.
  • Children – may seek protection but it must be done by an adult or a health board.
If such an Order is breached, it is a criminal offence. The Gardai may arrest, without a warrant, and charge a person who breaches such an order.
Judicial Separation

Where a couple cannot agree separation terms, an application can be made to the Court seeking a Decree of Judicial Separation. Agreements are often negotiated and reached during the course of proceedings and the case may very well settle in advance of the Judicial Separation hearing. It is Tierney Law Firm’s mission to make such a process as smooth and bearable as possible for its clients.


Child and spousal maintenance arrangements can be stressful. To ensure that an appropriate arrangement is put in place, you should seek advice from us. There is no fixed amount of maintenance; it is awarded on a case-by-case basis, having regard to the parties’ financial circumstances.

Separation Agreement

If a couple can agree terms amicably upon the termination of a relationship, they may enter into a Deed of Separation, which is a legally binding document. The costs are lower and usually all parties are content.

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