Like many family lawyers, we see first-hand on a daily basis, the critical changes which we need to make in our Family Law system.
Some of the key changes we would encourage to ease the process for families are:
Conflict in relationship breakdown benefits no-one, least of all the couple involved, or their children. Our system is by far too adversarial and does not provide enough alternatives to court for families in crisis. Alternative Dispute Resolution methods should be more accessible and available to people to avoid court. These can take the form of Mediation or Collaborative Law. The public should be informed more and educated more about the benefits of using ADR. It usually takes less time, and costs far less than protracted proceedings. In addition, agreements are more likely to last without complication or a need to be enforced.
Our court system needs more investment to ensure that court waiting times for families are reduced. This is particularly acute in rural areas, where family District Courts often only sit once per month. Delays in the processing of cases impacts negatively on families and children.
Training of judges and all court staff is essential to fully understand the dynamics of family law, and marital breakdown. Families are presenting to court staff at their most vulnerable. Staff and judges often lack the skills to address this properly. Dedicated Family Law Courts with dedicated Family Law Judges would improve outcomes for families and for children caught in conflict. They would also ensure greater consistency of decision making.
As part of the review of the overall family law system, we need to make counsellors, mediators, psychotherapists and child specialists available to families in crisis, within the system itself.
To find out more about Alternative Dispute Resolution or any of the issues in this blog, please call Alan Finnerty on 01 637 6200. Or you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Orpen Franks Solicitors LLP
28 & 30 Burlington Road, Dublin 4, Ireland
Telephone: +353 1 637 6200
Facsimile: +353 1 637 6262