Family law covers several topics of relevance and importance relating to the family. The family has a special place in the Constitution as Article 41.3.1 states that ‘The State pledges itself to guard with special care the institution of Marriage, on which the Family is founded and to protect it against attack.’
Since 1997 Government strategy in the family law area has been focused on:
- increasing support services, including establishing the Family Support Agency to assist in counselling, mediation and support of families
- providing substantial extra funding for civil legal aid services
- establishing family court offices in Dublin and in all areas outside Dublin
Regrettably marriage does on occasion break down, sometimes in difficult circumstances. In such cases there are various options available, namely divorce, separation or annulment. Divorce can be a serious issue with traumatic effects for spouses and their children. Children are particularly affected by a situation which is not of their making and which they struggle to understand. For this reason, the interests of the child must be to the fore in divorce cases and are recognised as such by the courts in matters involving custody, access or guardianship.
The issue of cohabitation is one that is of increasing public interest and the Options Paper presented by the Working Group on Domestic Partnership (PDF – 879KB) may be of interest.