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New Family Court Bill Announced

By December 12, 2022June 26th, 2024No Comments

New Family Court Bill Announced

On Wednesday the 16th November the Minister for Justice Helen McEntee announced the long awaited Family Court Bill.  The Bill will establish a dedicated Family Court division within the Court Service with a Family High Court, Family Circuit Court and a Family District Court overseen by specialist Judges working full time in Family Law.

A new Family Courts complex in Hammond Lane is to open in 2026 replacing the current Court buildings which are long past the point at which they were appropriate for the hearing of sensitive family law cases.

The Minister also published the first National Family Justice Strategy which is to run to 2025.  This new strategy commits to nine central goals with the goal of “supporting children” being the single most important focus of the new family law system.  Other goals include better alternative dispute resolution, legislative reform and people development i.e. specialised training for those working in the Family Courts.

It promises that the expert witnesses that provide reports in relation to the best interests of children will be properly trained, regulated and overseen.  Family law Judges will be trained to communicate with children and to recognise the dynamics of domestic abuse and coercive control and child friendly information will be provided to all children in the system.

A new Guardian Ad Litem Service is to be identified and opened.

Outside of the Hammond Lane complex family law cases will be on dedicated family law days i.e. not merged with criminal and civil cases.

There is a recognition that funding will be needed to ensure that children’s voices are heard but time will tell whether the Government is prepared to put the resources behind what is undoubtedly an enormous overhaul of the family law system.

There can be no doubt that putting the interests of vulnerable children impacted by family law cases first is to be welcomed and it can only be hoped that these changes can be effected and implemented as quickly as possible.

For further information on any family law matter please do not hesitate to contact Brendan Dillon or Erika Coughlan.