Family Law

Minister gives timeline for reform of the family courts

By October 20, 2021 No Comments
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Reform promised

As part of its programme for government, reform of the family courts system was promised by this government. In September 2020, the government published the General Scheme of the Family Courts Bill. The General Scheme of the Bill provides for the creation family court division in each of the court jurisdiction, the District, Circuit and High Court.

Amongst some of the changes contained in the proposed legislation, the Bill envisages giving the District Court the jurisdiction to deal with non-contentious divorces and judicial separations. Only the Circuit and High Court can currently deal with such cases. The Bill also provides for the training and specialisation judges in family law.

Public consultations were held where interested parties were invited to make submissions on what was included in the Bill and what they say should have been included.

The Minister has now indicated a likely date for publication of the finalised Bill.

Minister’s speech

Heather Humphreys, acting Minister for Justice, set out a timeline for reform of the family courts system in a speech at the Law Society Access to Justice conference in early October. In the speech she stated that the Family Courts Bill was being progressed as a matter of urgency and she expected it to be published in February 2022.

In the same speech, Minister Humphrey also gave details about the much awaited, and long delayed, Hammond Lane court complex.

The Hammond Lane site, which sits adjacent to the Four Courts in Dublin, has been earmarked by the Courts Service as the proposed site for a new family law complex since 2012.

She stated in her speech that the proposed, purpose-built family law court complex at Hammond Lane was the priority project of the Courts Service. Minister Humphrey confirmed that construction would begin in 2023 and the complex would open to the public in early 2026.

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