Bill to establish Family Court to go to Cabinet within months

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan

Legislation to establish a dedicated Family Court will be brought to Cabinet “in the coming months”, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has said.

Mr Flanagan was pressed in the Dáil by Peter Fitzpatrick, Fine Gael TD for Louth, to explain why the bill had been delayed.

The minister said his Department is still “working on the general scheme of a Family Court Bill which will aim to streamline family law court processes, clarify jurisdictional issues and provide for a set of guiding principles to help ensure the family court will operate in a user-friendly and efficient manner”.

He said a working group comprising officials from the Department of Justice, the Courts Service and the Legal Aid Board was currently examining “the operational aspects relating to the family court”.

Mr Flanagan continued: “The intention is that the working group will develop an overall architecture for the new family court structure. It is consulting with other relevant stakeholders.

“Key issues arising in consultations include family court venues, facilities, resources, capital investment in family courts and integration of relevant family and child services to provide the best possible family law outcomes.

“I hope to secure Government approval in the coming months for the general scheme of a Family Court Bill. Once the general scheme is approved by the Government, it will be referred to the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel for drafting and to the appropriate Oireachtas committee for pre-legislative scrutiny.”