Irishdivorce.com is a site dedicated to the history of legal separation in Ireland, a struggle which had legal and moral repercussions in Irish society up until very recently.
Joyce is keeping a divorce diary to share her journey but is also looking to open up the conversation on the secrets behind divorce in Ireland. "The One Year Rule" is a great example of just how strange, unusual, and difficult the process is in this country. A process which is amusing in its absurdity and shocking in its severity. Enjoy:
The actual shame of it. May 2014, sitting in 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 having to ask me;
“When was the last time you and your husband were intimate?”
The shock and embarrassment of it.
This is the reality of our divorce laws. This is where we are at in 2018, 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 asks you this awful intrusive question.Take a deep breath and say this “I can’t remember”.
Go home and think about it before you answer, because it may have serious implications for the timing of your divorce.