Matrimonial Causes Act 1973

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Matrimonial Causes Act 1973

This is the main Act when dealing with family law matters.

Although the Act is fairly complex and deals with many issues, a basic overview is as follows:

The Act states that the marriage should have irretrievably broken down and defines the 5 reasons for the breakdown, i.e:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable Behaviour
  • 2 years Separation with Consent
  • 2 years Separation with no consent (Desertion)
  • 5 years separation

The Act states that the Court should inquire as far as it reasonably can, as to the facts raised by the Petitioner and Respondent.

The Act states that the Court has to be satisfied that the marriage has irretrievably broken down before granting a Decree Absolute.

The Act gives details of the types of Orders that can be applied for and granted by the Court before, upon or after Decree Absolute (dependant upon individual circumstances) including:

  • An Order that one party should pay the other maintenance
  • An Order that one party should pay the other a lump sum
  • An Order that one party should pay the other payments
  • An Order that one party should pay the other party a lump sum in respect of a child
  • An Order that a property be transferred from one party to another
  • An Order in relation to a settlement of a property
  • An Order changing for the benefit of the parties and or children any pre-marriage or post-marriage settlement including made by a Will
  • An Order reducing or dismissing the interest of either of the parties to a marriage
  • An Order for sale of a property including provision for a payment from the proceeds of sale to a person specified
  • An Order for a Pension Share our of a Pension Scheme, a Lump sum to be paid from a pension scheme or earmarking (Pension Attachment Order) see Property and Finances Frequently asked Questions.
  • For more details on these Orders see our Property & finances section.

 

In dealing with the above, the Act states that the Court has to take into account the following:

  • The welfare of any child of the family who has not reached the age of 18
  • The income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the future
  • The financial needs, obligations, responsibilities which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future
  • The standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage
  • The age of each party to the marriage and the length of the marriage
  • Any physical or mental disability of each of the parties to the marriage
  • The contributions made by each party to the welfare of the family, including any contribution made by looking after the home or caring for the family
  • The conduct of each of the parties if that conduct us such that it would, in the opinion of the Court, be unfair to disregard it
  • The value to either of the parties to the marriage of any benefits (for example a pension) which because of the divorce that party may lose a chance of acquiring.

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