Statement from His Honour Judge Colin Daly, President of the District Court
Family Law Matters
Court Information and Supports Available
26 March, 2020.
The Judiciary and the Courts Service are working together during this difficult period, to ensure services to the public continue to be provided in so far as possible. Your health and safety and the health and safety of the Judiciary and our staff are our priority. While Court Offices remain open we have had to put in place measures to help reduce the risk of spreading the Coronavirus COVID-19.
- Where possible drop-boxes have been provided along with date stamped envelopes that you can place your papers in. The papers will be processed by the office and returned to you by post. Please enclose a contact number so the office can contact you if a query arises.
- We are asking everyone to take personal responsibility for social distancing. To further support this we have reduced the matters being heard in court. Specific arrangements for each court are posted on https://beta.courts.ie/
Family law matters
Domestic violence applications will continue to be given priority, so if you need a protection or interim barring order you can still come to court. Information on support services available nationwide can be found at www.safeireland.ie
This public health emergency is a difficult time for everyone. Concerns about health have left people confused and uncertain about the steps to take in relation to court orders for private family law matters such as access, maintenance and guardianship.
If you have a solicitor representing you please contact them to discuss your situation. A list of solicitors is available at www.lawsociety.ie
The best outcome for children is for parents to contact each other to set out their concerns and suggest ideas for practical solutions that can be put in place. The health concerns of parents, their children and the extended family need to be considered when sorting out arrangements.
As parents, if you agree that the arrangements set out in a court order should be temporarily varied you are free to do so. Make a note of this agreement by way of email or text message. Where a child, by agreement, does not get to spend their usual time with their parent, the court will expect that contact is established and maintained regularly. Using video technologies such as Skype, Zoom, What’s App or Face-Time might help, and if that is not possible telephone conversations should be arranged. These current restrictions mean that the detail of every access order may not be full implementable, but as parents you should make every effort to allow your child to continue access in a safe, alternative way.
It is not always possible for people to make these changes without help. The Family Mediation Service of the Legal Aid Board is offering free telephone mediation and conflict coaching. More details about this service can be found at www.legalaidboard.ie
The Courts are still dealing with urgent cases involving domestic violence. Applications for breach of access or maintenance are not generally considered to be urgent.
However, according to the Practice Direction of the President of the District Court dated 16th March, 2020 which says that a case which does not come into the defined urgent category can be treated as urgent if a good case can be made. You can email your court office setting out the reasons why the case should be considered urgent. You should email the other side to let them know you have applied and they must be given a chance to set out their position. You will be notified of the Court’s decision by email. Contact details for offices are available on https://beta.courts.ie/content/find-us
Other supports and services
Contact information for some other supports and services that you may find useful are set out below: