Member News

Family law: Access rights during the pandemic

NFG family lawThe government has created new legislation that recognises access arrangements as a valid reason for travel.

This follows the Law Society contacting the Government seeking as much clarity as possible on the issue of access during the period of movement restrictions. The new law explicitly recognises giving effect to access arrangements as a valid reason for travel at Regulation 4(2)(n).

Earlier this week the Law Society published a paper on guidelines for access during the Covid-19. The first guideline is as follows;

Court Orders in relation to access remain in place and should be complied with to the greatest degree possible in the circumstances. Children are allowed to move between parents’ homes for access. Covid-19 cannot be used as an excuse to ignore a court order. Parents are advised to have a copy of the court order with them when travelling for access.

Solicitor Helen Coughlan, chair of the group’s family and child law committee, said the pandemic cannot be used as an “excuse to prevent separated parents having contact with their children”. 

“The current health crisis has created some confusion and distress among the thousands of families where children routinely move between the homes of their separated parents every day and week across Ireland,” Coughlan said in a statement. 

“Court ordered access arrangements should be complied with to the greatest degree possible, or sensible alternatives should be agreed to allow parents to continue to have extensive access, for example via phone or video call, depending on the health considerations for each household.”

The Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan TD, has stressed that mediation services are still available and should be used if parties cannot agree on arrangements. The Family Mediation Service of the Legal Aid Board is offering free telephone mediation and conflict coaching.

See below a link to the complete list of guidelines regarding access during the pandemic. These guidelines have been prepared by family law practitioners and endorsed by the Family and Child Law Committee of the Law Society, the Family Lawyers Association and the Bar Council. The guidelines are intended to constitute best practice guidelines rather than specific client advice.

https://www.lawsociety.ie/globalassets/documents/committees/family/access-guidelines-covid-19.pdf

NB - This is a guide for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have an issue requiring legal advice, please contact any of the team at Nolan Farrell & Goff at 051 859999/ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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