Changes in Divorce – New Legislation
The Family Law Bill 2019 has now passed all stages in the Oireachtas. The legislation follows the passing of the divorce referendum on May 24 to amend the Constitution. The referendum was carried by 82% of those who voted
The Family Law Bill 2019 amends the Family Law (Divorce) Act 1996 to reduce the minimum living apart period specified in that Act to two years during the previous three years (from four years during the previous five years
Establishment of a Family Court within our Legal System
It is 24 years since the Law Reform Commission proposed the establishment of a Family Court division within our court system, and the proposal has been repeated since by judges, lawyers and all those working in Family Law.
Our current family law system is in crisis and families and lawyers are working in an under-resourced and over-stretched family law system which is not fit for purpose
The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice and Equality has now issued a report calling for a major overhaul of the family law system and it wants urgent status for long-promised legislation for the establishment of a dedicated and integrated family court within existing court structures
Specialist Family Law training is required
Most family Law cases including those that concern children, are heard in the general courts system by judges who have not received specialist family law training and who generally do not specialise in family law. Many of these cases are heard in the same Courthouse that is used for both Civil and Criminal proceedings.
The report on reform makes 38 recommendations in total and has been sent by the Oireachtas Joint Committee to the Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan.
The recommendations include:
- Specialist Family Law Judges
- A review of the physical infrastructure of family law courts
- Key ancillary services and agencies, such as legal aid, mediation services, courts and courts offices, should all be housed under one roof,
- Establishment on a permanent basis of a dedicated reporting body, to include both public and private family law proceedings, while maintaining the anonymity of parties,
- A full review of the legal aid scheme
- a substantial increase in the number of judges to address the backlog of cases and relieve pressure on the judiciary.
Action is now urgently required for a delivery of previous commitments to prioritise the modernisation of the family law courts system and to provide a family law system which will meet the needs of families who are at a very vulnerable time in their lives.
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The material contained in this blog is provided for general information purposes only and does not amount to legal or other professional advice. While every care has been taken in the preparation of the information, we advise you to seek specific advice from us about any legal decision or course of action.