Family law solicitor issues warning over court delays

Marion Campbell
Marion Campbell

Court delays in Ireland have brought the processes of divorce and separation almost to a halt, a family law solicitor has said.

Number recently released by the Court Service of Ireland show that over the last year, in a number of cities across Ireland, couples waited an average of up to 52 weeks before their cases were brought before the Circuit Family Court, The Irish Times reports.

Marion Campbell, one of Dublin’s best know family law solicitors, expressed concern, saying: “The major stresses in all our lives now is the way the system is managed.”

Ms Campbell added that the “whole system is on its knees”.

Ms Campbell stated that there was a “bottleneck” of cases within the system, held in limbo between the stage at which cases can begin and before waiting times are considered.

Commenting on a recent case she worked on, which had previously been adjourned, Ms Campbell said that despite expert witnesses travelling to give evidence on the day, a decision was undoubtedly not going to be reached. The case had to be adjourned for a second time.

When cases do not take place for some reason, they are often given new dates six or more months later.

A Cork solicitor said non-contested cases are given priority within the system, however contested cases can go on for a lengthy amount of time unless the parties in the case are willing to settle, and other cases due to be heard will be postponed.

He said: “Those cases will be given another date, with priority, a number of months later; that happens regularly enough.”

He called for more days to be set aside for hearings in order to reduce the backlog of cases which in turn affects the waiting times for new cases.

A spokesman for the Courts Service said that sometimes unforeseen circumstances do not allow for cases to proceed at the allocated time.

Mr Justice Raymond Groarke, president of the Circuit Court, recently set aside one court in Phoenix House, Dublin, to only hear urgent divorce applications.

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