Family Law Handbook

Launch of new handbook sets new benchmarks for practitioners in navigating Family Law cases.

  • Launch of new handbook: ‘Family Law in Ireland – Code of Practice’ set to become essential guide for legal practitioners
  • Changes in family law in recent years – particularly divorce and the rights of the child - driving need to create a more understanding and empathetic legal system
  • Call being made to support the development of new, and adaptation of existing, facilities around Ireland to accommodate the specific needs of family law cases

A new free to download handbook, Family Law in Ireland – Code of Practice (4th edition), will be launched by the President of the District Court Mrs Rosemary Horgan on Thursday 14 September 2017 at the Law Society of Ireland. The handbook will establish a new benchmark for legal practitioners in understanding and working within the rapidly changing area of family law in Ireland.

“Family Law is a dynamic and complex area of law in Ireland, and we have seen significant change in recent years which reflect the evolving fabric of our society,” said Keith Walsh, Chair of the Family and Child Law Committee, Law Society of Ireland.

“Many within the solicitors’ profession report that family law disputes were not resolved but postponed during the recession and are only now making their way through the courts. In some instances these issues were stalled due to greater economic problems such as dealing with negative equity and mortgage problems, unemployment and emigration or loss of businesses and investment.”

Changes within the law – drivers and responses

The new handbook recognises a number of specific needs for solicitors in dealing with family law matters relating to:

  • post-recession issues;
  • the internationalisation of family law arising from increased emigration and increased mobility of Irish citizens;
  • the introduction of legislation in 2010 that recognised Civil Partnership and Cohabitation relationships, creating various rights and duties;
  • the constitutional amendment on children’s rights and the new Child and Family Relationships Act 2015;
  • increasing complexity of child care proceedings; and
  • increasing importance of alternative dispute resolution and mediation.

“The complex nature of legal proceedings and the experience of engaging with the courts can be stressful for clients – our role as solicitors is to support our clients, interpret the law and assist in the resolution of the consequences of relationship breakdown,” said Mr Walsh.

Voice of the child now central

“Since the enactment of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015, we have also seen a greater priority and importance placed upon the voice of the child in such circumstances.”

“This Act has been a game-changer for families as the best interests of children is now the paramount consideration for the Courts when dealing with access, custody, guardianship or the upbringing of children.”

“Children are finally at the centre of the Court process and their voice is being heard in all these cases. Our new code reflects the changing landscape of family law in the past.”

“The Handbook even provides a survival plan for parents – an indispensable set of tips and advice on counselling clients on how they can manage their parent/child relationship during such difficult times.”

Call for dedicated facilities

At this event the Society will call for a more integrated and fair system of family law through the creation of specialist family courts and Judges and for more resources to be allocated to the system of family law.

“The Law Society has been a long-term advocate for the development of new dedicated family law courts in Ireland, and the upgrade of regional facilities to provide for the needs of members of the public,” said Mr Walsh.

“While we are pleased the Government has committed to developing a dedicated Family Court in Dublin, we are extremely concerned at the ongoing lack of dedicated facilities around the country in general.”

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