Family Law

The breakdown of a relationship is intensely difficult and particularly so when you have children. It is important to understand the steps that can be taken to help all parties move along with their live.


This is a process that encourages the couple to co-operate with each other to come to a mutually acceptable arrangement. A Mediator can work with the couple to assist them in reaching an amicable agreement that is fair, equitable and workable. This can then form the basis for a Separation Agreement.


A separation agreement is a legal agreement entered into by a separating couple. It aims to set out the terms of settlement of issues such as where the spouse leaving the home will live; finances; access arrangements for children; and how property, assets, investments and pensions will be dealt with. A legal separation agreement can rarely be made without the assistance of a family law solicitor.

Julie Breen Solicitors LLP in Ferns and Enniscorthy try to make this process as painless as possible by providing sound legal advice in relation to the complex issues involved in a legal separation.


A Decree of Divorce allows both parties in a marriage to re-marry. Divorce in Ireland has been legalised since 1996, when the Family Law Divorce Act 1996 was implemented. Only a Court can grant a Decree of Divorce.

At Julie Breen Solicitors LLP in Ferns and Enniscorthy we strive to get our clients the best and fairest result possible. In this sensitive and difficult situation, we advise our clients in a very practical manner about avoiding any unnecessary conflict and upset, while ensuring that their legal rights are upheld.


When a couple separates, one parent is granted custody and the other is granted access rights. Access addresses such issues as the right to have the child stay overnight – occasionally, on alternate weekends or during school holidays – and the right for parent and child to go on holidays together. Sometimes parents can agree between themselves the arrangements for custody and access to the child, or if agreement cannot be reached then either parent can make an application to the court to decide these issues.
It is always the welfare of the child that is the most important factor in these cases. It is a child’s right to see both parents and access rights will only be denied if the court believes that it is not in the best interest of the child. The court can set out the time, place and duration of access visits and can order supervised access where another adult is present during visits if it considers it appropriate.
Julie Breen Solicitors LLP can help you work out suitable access arrangements, or we can advise you on applying to court if required.


In Ireland, parents – whether married or unmarried – have a legal responsibility to maintain dependent children. Spouses / civil partners also have a legal responsibility to maintain each other, in accordance with their means. It is important to note that paying maintenance does not give a parent access or guardianship rights.

Informal agreements regarding maintenance can work well, where both parties are reasonable and fair. However it can be difficult to assess informally how much maintenance should be paid.

We provide legal advice in relation to various factors that the court will take into account when making a maintenance order:

  • Income/earning capacity of the dependent spouse
  • Net income of the earning spouse
  • Minimum requirements of the dependent spouse and children
  • Minimum requirements of the earning spouses
  • Property or other financial resources of both parties
  • Taxation Issues

Co-habiting Couples

The law in Ireland around this type of family formation is changing and of particular importance is the introduction of the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010. While co-habiting couples do not have the same rights and obligations as married couples, the Act of 2010 has brought many changes to the area and has strengthened some of the rights that can be relied upon. For example, the Act provides that an unmarried father can be have automatic guardianship in circumstances where the couple have lived together for proscribed periods of time.  The team at Julie Breen Solicitors LLP can advise you in respect of the rights and obligations that attach to your own personal circumstances.