Family Law


This firm employs an approach for family law with an advocacy of conciliation for family law matters. This, of course, is subject to the needs of the case as determined by the facts and the instructions’ given.

Sometimes it is essential and critical to take an immediate and urgent adversarial approach. It is best first, if feasible, to encourage and assist the parties who once shared love together and who have now a better reason at this time of dispute to share it even more, that is of course, a child.

The parties may need time to adjust to this new reality of separation. Confusion and anger will be only temporary. Children in the family, if any, need to be the primary focus. Alas, there are only losers in family breakdown.

The critical loser is the innocent child. Parents ought to shield the child from their own trauma and seek agreement, mediation and reconciliation where possible. Where not possible, prepare for court.

Family Law proceedings begin in the District Court, the Circuit Court or the High Court and always centre upon Articles 41 and 42 of the Constitution of Ireland. The family is a legal and social reality with iconic constitutional standing.

The State’s constitutional guarantees do not fully extend to what is often commonly referred to as a common law family, the natural family. In Irish law, it can be a partnership. This discriminating position remains the legal position. The decision Nicolaou [1966] IR 567 (SC) established the discrimination. The influence of the European Union on this case precedent has recently modified our laws.

The natural family may now avail of legal recognition by use of statute law and recent court decisions. The natural family has been conceded fundamental rights under Article 40.3, extending the “natural and imprescriptible” rights under Article 42.5.through the child and by legislation. Guardianship, custody and care of children must address major issues between parents experiencing problems together requiring a practical resolution of exercising their rights and discharging responsibilities.

The welfare of the child is regarded as the first and paramount consideration. A appointed guardian is entitled to be involved in making decisions about the welfare, upbringing and development of the child.

Custody is the physical care and control of children. Custody is resolved by the courts in separation proceedings and they are often tragic but sometimes necessary. Mediation may be a best method of resolution before attending court.

Access may be agreed between the parties and the court will rarely interfere. Family members themselves will know what works best. Duration and frequency of access must be well thought out and discussed with the lawyer to avoid unnecessary disagreements.

It is not good to change one’s mind too often about these issues as it indicates confusion of mind and lack of realism. Keep to the plan and perhaps review it with regard to the child’s wishes every few months as it progresses.

Serious misconduct may require that a spouse or partner leave the family home because of their condition or behaviour where there are reasonable grounds for believing that the safety or welfare of that spouse, partner, or child may be at risk or where the family home may be at risk. Criminal prosecution, or an application for a barring order, may be appropriate.