Law Society calls on major reform in Family Law

In a major submission in May of this year the Law Society declared its support for the changes to the Referendum (subsequently passed) which has allowed for the removal of Divorce from our constitution and for it to be dealt with in legislation. The Law Society also supported the replacement of the period of 4 years by 2 years in the Family Law Divorce Act. We still await the enactment of legislation to change the period from 4 years to 2 years.

In addition to the reduction in the time period for “living apart” from 4 years to 2 years in order to be entitled to bring an application for divorce the Law Society made other proposals designed to improve the circumstances for parties engaged in family law proceedings.

• The establishment of a specialised family court structure.

• In a clear definition as to what “living apart” means i.e. the test which must be satisfied to entitle parties to bring an application for divorce.

• A set of clear guidelines for the court to determine what financial relief should be made available to the parties in the form of maintenance, lump sum payments, property adjustment orders and pension adjustment orders.

• Provision for “clean break” divorces in certain circumstances. At present, the Irish Courts do not recognise the concept of clean break and the issue of maintenance is generally left open for future applications.

• Recognition of pre-nuptial agreements.

• Review of the issue of maintenance.

• Review of the Succession Act in relation to waving Succession Act rights to allow for a clean break scenarios.

• A clear position with regard to the recognition to foreign divorces.

• The greater use of non-court options such as medication/ collaborative law.

• Bona Fide researchers to be allowed into Courts to do reports (on an anonymised basis) on trends in the Courts’ decisions.

Hopefully many, if not all, of these recommendation will be taken on board by the government in due course. The establishment of a specialised Family Law court building such as the Criminal courts building in Parkgate Street is long overdue and required in order to protect the dignity and provide adequate facilities for the parties involved.

For any advice or assistance on any family law matter please do not hesitate to contact Brendan Dillon on 01-2960666 or info@dillon.ie