Family law disputes should be heard more promptly, and more efficiently under legislation announced by Minister for Justice Helen McEntee. The long-anticipated Family Court Bill will establish a dedicated family court division within the courts service, with Family High Court, Circuit Court, and District Courts solely for family law cases.
By the end of 2025 it is promised that experts to provide reports, including on the best interests of children, will be properly trained and in situ. In addition, family law judges will be trained to communicate with children and to recognise the dynamics of domestic abuse and coercive control.
Family law cases will be held on dedicated family-law days, in dedicated court rooms. This will help to address wide disparities in waiting times and lengths of cases, whilst also creating more privacy for those involved.
Under the proposed legislation, courts should encourage alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation – except in cases where this would not be appropriate, such as domestic violence cases. The aim here is that the legislation will enable a greater proportion of non-contentious family law matters to be dealt with at District Court level, thus minimising the costs for litigants.