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Child access agreements may be varied by agreement, says District Court president

27 Mar 2020 / family law Print

Child access can be varied by agreement – judge

Judge Colin Daly, President of the District Court, has issued a statement on family law matters and court information.

“The judiciary and the Courts Service are working together during this difficult period, to ensure services to the public continue to be provided in so far as possible.

Reduce risk

“Your health and safety and the health and safety of the Judiciary and our staff are our priority.

"While court offices remain open we have had to put in place measures to help reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19,” he said last night. 

  • Where possible drop-boxes have been provided along with date-tamped envelopes that to place papers in. The papers will be processed by the office and returned by post. Enclose a contact number so the office can make contact if a query arises,
  • Everyone is asked to take personal responsibility for social distancing and the number of matters being heard in court has been reduced. Specific arrangements for each court are posted on https://beta.courts.ie/

Family law matters

Domestic violence applications will continue to be given priority, so if a protection or interim barring order is needed, a party can still come to court.

Information on support services available nationwide can be found at www.safeireland.ie www.womensaid.ie and www.mensaid.ie 

Justice Daly continued: “This public health emergency is a difficult time for everyone.

Confused

“Concerns about health have left people confused and uncertain about the steps to take in relation to court orders for private family law matters such as access, maintenance and guardianship.

“If you have a solicitor representing you please contact them to discuss your situation. A list of solicitors is available at www.lawsociety.ie

“The best outcome for children is for parents to contact each other to set out their concerns and suggest ideas for practical solutions that can be put in place.

Health concerns

“The health concerns of parents, their children and the extended family need to be considered when sorting out arrangements.

“As parents, if you agree that the arrangements set out in a court order should be temporarily varied you are free to do so.

“Make a note of this agreement by way of email or text message. Where a child, by agreement, does not get to spend their usual time with their parent, the court will expect that contact is established and maintained regularly.

“Using video technologies such as Skype, Zoom, What’s App or Facetime might help, and if that is not possible telephone conversations should be arranged.

“These current restrictions mean that the detail of every access order may not be fully implementable, but as parents you should make every effort to allow your child to continue access in a safe, alternative way,” he said.

Conflict coaching 

The family mediation service from the Legal Aid Board is offering free telephone mediation and conflict coaching.

More details about this service can be found at www.legalaidboard.ie

The courts are still dealing with urgent cases involving domestic violence.

Applications for breach of access or maintenance are not generally considered to be urgent.

However, according to the Practice Direction of the President of the District Court dated 16 March, a case which does not come into the ‘defined urgent’ category can be treated as urgent if a good case can be made.

Urgent

A party may email the court office setting out the reasons why the case should be considered urgent.

The other party should also be emailed about the application and given a chance to set out their position.

The court’s decision will then be notified by email.

 

Contact details for offices are available on https://beta.courts.ie/content/find-us

Gazette Desk
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