Coronavirus is ‘no excuse’ for non-compliance with family court orders

Coronavirus is 'no excuse' for non-compliance with family court orders

Children are allowed to move between parents’ homes during the coronavirus pandemic to comply with access orders, according to new guidance for lawyers.

The Law Society of Ireland, The Bar of Ireland and the Family Lawyers’ Association yesterday jointly launched updated guidelines for access during the COVID-19 emergency.

“COVID-19 cannot be used as an excuse to ignore a court order,” the guidance warns. “Parents are advised to have a copy of the court order with them when travelling for access.”

The guidance was drawn up following previous announcements from the president of the District Court in March and a statement from Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan on Saturday.

Mr Flanagan said: “I appreciate the concerns that the public health emergency is causing for many families in relation to court orders for matters such as access, maintenance and guardianship.

“However I think it’s important to point out that court orders in relation to access remain in place. The restrictions brought in to tackle COVID-19 do not stop them being implemented, and should not be used as an excuse by either party.”

Welcoming the new guidance, family lawyer Keith Walsh said: “Great credit must go to the child and family law committee of the Law Society, to the Bar Council and to the Family Lawyers’ Association for their cooperation and work at short notice to devise and finalise these guidelines which are of great practical assistance to lawyers and parents in these difficult times.

“Helen Coughlan, Deirdre Burke, Paul McCarthy SC and Nuala Jackson SC are to be thanked for their tireless work to develop these guidelines along with all their colleagues in the Law Society, Bar Council and FLA.”

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