Family Law

Modernising Family Law in Ireland: Navigating the Crisis and Embracing 21st Century Reforms

By March 12, 2024 No Comments
Irish Family Law

Irish Family Law has been undergoing significant reforms to better reflect the diverse realities of family life in the 21st century. The Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 introduced landmark changes, such as allowing a wider range of individuals to become a child’s guardian, extending rights to parents who are civil partners, and making a child’s best interests the paramount consideration in court proceedings regarding guardianship, custody, or access. Notably, the act enables unmarried fathers to automatically become guardians of their children if they cohabit with the child’s mother for at least 12 months after January 18, 2016. Furthermore, it makes provisions for grandparents and other relatives to apply for custody or access more easily, and for maintenance responsibilities to be potentially imposed on a cohabiting partner who is a guardian of the child.

However, the Irish family law system is facing a crisis, according to many working in the system. The system is described as under-resourced and the courts, especially in Dublin, as unfit for purpose. There have been calls for the creation of a specialist division of family courts and judges to address these challenges more efficiently. This division would handle family law cases exclusively, aiming to foster consistency and enable judges who are familiar with these cases to manage them more effectively. There’s a pressing need for improvements in security, environment, and working conditions within family courts, alongside a greater focus on early settlement and alternatives to court proceedings to save time and resources for all parties involved.

These reforms and the urgent calls for improvement underline the importance of evolving the legal system to meet the needs of modern Irish families, emphasizing a child-centered approach and recognizing the complexities of family relationships today.

Here in Felton McKnight we keep up to date with changes and improvements in the Irish Family Law system for the benefit of our own clients.

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