Sex and divorce in Ireland; The One Year rule

The One Year Rule

The actual shame of it.

May 2014, sitting the solicitor’s office with my sister.

I knew that my marriage was over, not for the first time, but for the last time. This was it, I did not want to go back.

So I did the practical thing and sought legal advice.

This was my First Visit with my Solicitor, I was a nervous wreck. Exhausted from the stress of the fighting with my husband and the worry of what would become of me and my children if I walked away from him.

I needed to hear a legal professional tell me, out loud that my husband could not walk away from the marriage and leave me with nothing.

I took my sister because I needed her to hear the same so she could repeat it back to me afterwards.

I described my situation to the solicitor. My husband did not appear to want a divorce and would, I suspected fight the process to the bitter end.

My solicitor was measured and sensitive, he explained to me that in cases where a couple cannot agree on the terms of separation then one party can apply to the court for a judicial separation.

From the get-go, it was obvious to me that this was the route I would have to take. After some discussion I instructed the solicitor that this option might the one for me and asked him how we should proceed from there.

Then came the awkward silence.

He fudged around a bit with stuff on his desk. “I just need to ask you about something personal, would you like a glass of water? Would you like your sister to leave the room?”

“Oh jaysus” I thought and wondered where this was going. It was clear the man took no pleasure in this next part of the dialogue.

Solicitors are good with words, so good in fact that sometimes you hear what they’re saying but you don’t actually know what they’re saying. This was to be one of those occasions.

“We can begin to prepare the documents to apply for the judicial separation” he told me. But in order to make the application you must be living apart from your spouse for a period of one year.

“Living apart” or no longer having “normal marital relations”.

So I had to tell a solicitor the last time my husband and I were intimate and one year from that date I could apply for a judicial separation.

The shock and embarrassment of it.

This is the reality of our divorce laws. This is where we are at in 2019, solicitors are obliged to ask clients about their sex lives.

I could not, it transpired apply for a judicial separation until one year after my last sexual encounter with my then husband.

Once you disclose this information to your solicitor, he/she will not be in a position to knowingly lie on your behalf or help you to lie.

So please heed my advice, if/when your solicitor must ask you intrusive questions about the date of your last intimacy.

Go home and think about it before you answer, because it may have serious implications for the timing of your divorce.

 

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