One of the largest books ever produced on family law in Ireland will be published this autumn.
The third edition of solicitor Dr Geoffrey Shannon’s Child and Family Law, to be published by Round Hall, runs to over 2,000 pages in length.
The mammoth tome is a scholarly examination of the full breadth of this key area of the law.
“A seismic change has occurred in Irish society in terms of family structures,” Dr Shannon writes.
Up to 1980, births outside marriage accounted for fewer than 5% of all births, but by 2017, a total of 37.6% of registered births were outside marriage, Dr Shannon notes.
The practitioner-led text tracks the rapid changes in Irish law and society, as well as the increasing internationalisation of family and child law, to provide a comprehensive and detailed account of the law in this area.
Dr Shannon examines in detail how families, and their composition, have changed in the period under the microscope.
Chapter 16 reviews the challenges in securing the best interests of children and young people in the context of the changing nature of the family in Ireland.
Dr Shannon examines the profound social, legal and ethical issues that arise as a result of assisted reproduction technologies, and their bearing on legal matters concerning the child and the family.
In particular, the book examines new assisted reproductive technologies, which challenge settled assumptions around parentage and biological relationships.
The legacy of child protection failures in Ireland, the uncertainty of Brexit, and the new frontier of the internet and digital technologies are probed.
Dr Shannon also surveys the intense socio-legal change wrought by the 1995 introduction of divorce, as well as the considerable growth in personal and public wealth heralded by the Celtic Tiger.
The book’s foreword, by Chief Justice Frank Clarke, (pictured) refers to the sheer breadth of areas which the author has had to address.
The chief justice says that Dr Shannon has produced a “highly comprehensive account” and that the merit of his overarching text is that it provides food for thought across a whole range of differing areas.
Period of rapid change
The work will also provide practical answers to the day-to-day questions, the chief justice writes.
“I hope that Child and Family Law has currency in a period of rapid change,” solicitor Dr Geoffrey Shannon told Gazette.ie, pointing to the new statutory footing for remote court hearings, which came into effect on Friday (21 August).
“Minister McEntee deserves particular credit for the introduction of the Civil Law and Criminal Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2020, which was signed into law by the President on 6 August 2020.
“This very welcome development, which is discussed in the book, provides the necessary infrastructure and clarity in the current environment for bodies to conduct remote hearings, hold meetings and make decisions remotely,” he said.
Unsurprisingly, the area of adoption law is comprehensively covered in this seminal work.
Dr Shannon will retire from his role as chairperson of the Adoption Authority of Ireland, a quasi-judicial body, at the end of October having served the maximum two five-year consecutive terms permitted under section 98(6) of the Adoption Act 2010.
He was appointed as the first chair of the Adoption Authority on 31 October 2010 and was reappointed through the Public Appointments Service on 31 October 2015.
The book’s price is €365 and publication is scheduled for November.
All royalty proceeds will go to charity.