Skip to main content

Jurisdiction of Courts in Family Law

By September 19, 2022June 26th, 2024No Comments

Jurisdiction of Courts in Family Law


What Courts in Ireland deal with Family Law.

In Ireland there are five different layers within the Court system namely the District Court, Circuit Court, High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.

The vast majority of Court Separations and Divorce applications take place in the Circuit Court.

The District Court does have jurisdiction i.e. (power) to deal with Family Law matters but only in relation to interim matters such as domestic violence applications i.e. Protection Orders, Safety Orders and Barring Orders as well as interim Maintenance and Custody/Access arrangements.

Usually when proceedings have been filed for either a Separation or a Divorce in the District or High Court the District Court would not deal with interim applications relating to matters such as Domestic Violence, Custody/Maintenance although the attitude of Judges varies from Court to Court, and this may not always be the case. A District Court cannot deal with an application for Separation or Divorce as it is not within its jurisdiction.

As stated above Circuit Courts throughout the Country deal with a vast majority of Separation/Divorces.

In “ample resources” cases where property assets exceed €3million, either of the parties can decide when issuing proceedings to issue them in the High Court.

There may be circumstances where the value of the parties’ property does not exceed €3million where other assets such as business assets etc bring the value of the overall assets over €3million. In those circumstances the parties can still elect to issue proceedings in the Circuit Court if they wish in order to save costs. The cost of issuing and conducting proceedings through the High Court is generally significantly higher than in the Circuit Court.

Decisions of the Circuit Court can be appealed to the High Court and decisions of the High Court can be appealed to the Court of Appeal. In relation to appeals from the Circuit Court to the High Court it is a completely new hearing and the High Court conduct the case without regard to evidence given in the Circuit Court.

By contrast in appeals from the High Court to the Court of Appeal, there is no rehearing of the evidence as the Court of Appeal does not hear evidence. Instead, the Court of Appeal’s task is to assess whether the High Court Judge was correct or erred in law on its conclusions in relation to the decision it made.


For further information or advice in relation to any Family Law matter please do not hesitate to contact either Brendan Dillon or Erika Coughlan on 01-2960666.