Family Law Case Update & Features in Dublin, Ireland
One of the features of Family Law in Ireland is that it progressed with a high degree of privacy; the overriding principle in Family law cases is that they are heard in private (in camera). This is to protect the privacy of the family. The only persons in Court when a family law case is heard are:
-the Court Registrar
-their legal representatives (their family law solicitor and barrister), and witnesses or persons that the Court agrees can attend
Slowly some reporting of cases, outside of the High Court’s formal written judgments, has opened up, with the introduction of the Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2013 (“the 2013 Act”) which became operative in January 2014 which provides for a degree of balance for justice to be administered in public, in that members of the press and media can now apply to attend family law hearings and to report on same.
This is on the basis that there remains a prohibition on the publication of material that could lead the public to identify the parties to such cases. A breach of this law is a criminal offense and conviction on indictment can result in a fine up to €50,000 or a term of imprisonment of up to 12 months, or to both, such is the gravity of such a breach. If you have a concern that the publication of a report on all or any aspect of your family law case will identify you or members of your family, or that it would disclose personal or commercially sensitive information that may arise in a family law case for example, or restrict you or witnesses from giving evidence, your family law solicitor can review this with you and consideration can be made for making an application to the family law court for an order restricting the publication of the case. In our experience however Judges when reporting on cases (in their written judgments in the High Court) and the media are very cognisant of the protection of individual’s privacy, even down to the listing of cases by the initials of the parties, in written High Court judgments these initials are changed and great steps taken to report on matters in a neutral manner so as not to breach the parties privacy.
Accordingly, while you may have heard the occasional Family law Court Report on the radio or read a newspaper snippet of family law matters, the intricacies of family law still remain a relatively rare Court reporting event. While there is significant value to this for the persons involved, it does create a degree of the ‘unknown’ for newly separated persons starting out on a family law separation or divorce matter. It is one of the reasons why family law has become an increasingly specialised area of legal practice, and why early expert advice from a specialist family law solicitor can give a newly separated person so much more knowledge than a solicitor in general practice.
Specialist Family Law Solicitors
A specialist family law solicitor will know the law, will be familiar with the Judges of the local family law court, and will have insight into assessing how to best take the case towards resolution at an early stage. The key to assessing how to proceed is to look at it from the perspective of what is likely to happen if a dispute progresses to a family law Court and see if that likely result can be achieved with less stress and less legal costs and less time in the interests of all concerned. There is considerable value to both parties to a family law matter having on hand expert advice from a specialised family law solicitor, as the likelihood is then that both parties will receive expert family law advice, which will have been applied to their situation. With their spouse in receipt of the same well-grounded specialised family law advice, then well-informed decisions can be made quickly and a focus turns to the implementation of financial aspects of the settlement, which like all financial matters when significant are frequently complex and of themselves take certain expertise to resolve.
Carmody Moran Solicitors LLP in Dublin 2 and Blanchardstown
Our own expert family law solicitors team clarifies the law for clients starting on a separation journey and at our initial consultation with clients, we will endeavour to set out a road map of options and give you an insight into the law.
Where there are written judgments in family law in Ireland, these come from the High Court only, the lower Circuit Court, but the High Court only deals with cases where assets are valued at over €3,000,000 (high-value family law cases of over three million euro), and therefore the vast majority of persons seeking either a divorce or judicial separation, will not be bringing their cases in the High Court but rather in the Family Law Circuit Court where, because of reporting restrictions, there are no reports and no written judgments.
Every so often though, a case in the High Court does come along which can be of great assistance to persons trying to find their way through the sometimes muddy waters of family law and what they can expect from a Family Law Court in Ireland. One recent case was heard by Judge Jordan in relation to an application for divorce and which sets out many of the criteria that the Courts look at when deciding how to divide assets in family law cases and also how the Court addresses Domestic Violence Applications.
In this particular case, S v D (Record No 2020/107M)
The Court was asked to divide family assets where the wife earned substantially more than the husband and where the wife’s earnings in the past had been over one million euros per year. It also addressed issues concerning work in the home and caring for children together with a significant illness that the wife had suffered during the marriage.
The husband had asserted that he had been the main caregiver for the children because of the long hours that the wife worked but the Court refused the husband’s Application to sell the family home instead and, permitted the wife to purchase the husband’s share of the family home for 50% of the net value which was approximately €900,000. The Court also provided for the husband a lump sum financial payment of €280,000 allowing the wife to retain sole ownership of the apartment which she owned abroad. With regard to pensions, pensions in family law are often a significant asset requiring Court determination, the Court equalised the pensions in the family law case where the wife’s pension was far in excess of that of her husband. This means that both pensions in the family law case were put into one pot and then divided on a 50/50 basis. Both sides were ordered to pay their own legal costs, as is generally the norm in family law legal costs orders.
There had been issues regarding allegations and counter-allegations of domestic violence.
One interesting feature of this family law case was that the husband had agreed to allow a Safety Order to be put in place against him but, without prejudice to any defence he might make in that regard, his solicitor stated that they did this purely in an effort to try and move the case along and get it heard more quickly. During the hearing, the wife’s lawyers tried to assert that the husband had admitted to the allegations against him of domestic violence but, the Court found that this was not the case and it was clear that the husband was purely agreeing to the Safety Order being put in place for reasons of expediency, not by reasons of guilt or culpability.
The Court stated that when dividing the family assets, while the Court gives equal recognition to the contributions made by both spouses during the marriage and their respective roles within the marriage, this did not mean that the Court must divide the matrimonial assets equally.
Specialist Family Law Solicitors Offices in Dublin
At Carmody Moran Solicitors LLP
We can meet with you at our offices located centrally off Merrion Square, near Baggott Street, Dublin 2 at 27 Mount Street Upper, Dublin 2, which office services Dublin City Centre, South Dublin family law clients, Blackrock, Stillorgan, Rathfarnham, Terenure, Ballsbridge, Sandymount, Rathgar, Ranelagh, and family law clients from all around Dublin, Wicklow, Kildare, and Ireland.
Carmody Moran Solicitors LLP has a second office located two minutes from the M50 at Blanchardstown on Blanchardstown Main Street. This office services Dublin West, Dublin North, local areas of Castleknock, Clonsilla, Blanchardstown, Lucan, Clontarf, Sutton, Portmarnock, Maynooth, Meath, Louth, and clients from all over Ireland. Our expert team aims to dispel the unknown and at an initial consultation starting from €246 (including vat @ 23%), our expert family lawyers will endeavour to review your personal situation with you and set out a road map of options, and to give you an insight into family law and how it applies to your situation.
At Carmody Moran Solicitors LLP
Our family law solicitors are skilled in family law and complex financial transactions, they also have expertise in resolving family law matters with probate elements of legal practice, and two of our partners are trained, mental health lawyers. This wealth of experience brings real practical value and sound judgment to the analysis of complex family law matters.
As we advance into 2023, we intend to focus our legal news with a renewed focus on our specialisation in family law legal cases and how family law is applied in practice in Ireland if you have any questions or which to discuss your case further, please do get in touch with our team on 018272888 or email us at [email protected] for more information.
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Anthony Carmody is a qualified solicitor with over 20 years’ experience in leading Dublin law firms. Anthony has specialised in the area of defending personal injury claims representing Insurance companies and Local Authorities, as well as undertaking claimant cases.