Legal Training, CPD Courses for Solicitors, Barristers and Legal Professionals

Course Family Law: A Review of Recent Developments


Family Law: A Review of Recent Developments

4 general CPD Hours

Tuesday 25 April 2017, 2-6pm, The Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Golden Lane, Dublin 8

There have been significant developments in Family Law in recent times. These range from the Children and Family Law Relationships Act, 2015 to recent case law and pensions. A further area of concern to practitioners is child protection allegations in private family law proceedings. These matters have far –reaching implications for practitioners. The object of this seminar is to highlight such developments and to assess their practical importance in day to day practice

Chaired by Ms Justice Marie Baker

The Children and Family Relationship Act 2015:The Rights of Extended Family and Third Parties

Muriel Wall

The Children and Family Law Relationships Act, 2015 represents the most significant change in family law in a generation. The constitutional preference for families based on marriage remains intact. However, the legislation also attempts to reflect the social reality of contemporary life in Ireland. This includes the increased prevalence of marriage and relationship breakdown and diverse family formations. The legislation strengthens and creates new rights for parents and most crucially, for children. It widens the circle of those who can apply for guardianship, custody and access to a child. This section of the seminar will provide you with a practical guide to the rights of extended family and third parties.

The matters to be addressed include the following:


  • Guardianship rights for unmarried fathers
  • Guardianship for parents in cases of donor assisted reproduction
  • Entitlement of step-parents and partners and co-habitants to apply to court for guardianship
  • In what circumstances might the court appoint a temporary guardian?
  • Importance of the appointment of a testamentary guardian

Custody and Access

  • Improved rights of custody and access to a wider range of family members
  • Significant changes in respect of custody rights for step-parents, civil partners and co-habitants
  • Are the rights of grandparents and relatives strengthened?

The Best Interests Principle and the Voice of the Child

  • The replacement of the “welfare principle” with the “best interests principle”
  • What criteria shall the court have regard to in interpreting this principle?
  • Does the court have a mandatory obligation to have regard to any family violence?
  • The views of the child and the child’s right to participate in the proceedings
  • How will the court ensure that the views of the child are freely expressed and not as a result of undue influence of another person including the parent of the child?


  • Wider range of enforcement orders where access has been unreasonably denied such as provision for compensatory access, reimbursement of expenses and obligation to attend family counselling or a parenting programme or mediation


  • Is a co-habiting partner who has acted in loco parentis and is a guardian liable for maintenance?
  • Maintenance for the dependent child of civil partners including where the child is the child of only one of the civil partners


  • Brief review of the provisions and Adoption (Amendment) Bill 2016

Pensions in the Context of Family Law: Tips and Traps

Ciara Matthews

  • Review of the types of schemes
  • What orders can be made
  • Steps to be taken when seeking Pension Adjustment Orders
  • Contents of a Pension Adjustment Order
  • Advice to clients post Pension Adjustment Order being made
  • Common pitfalls
  • Taxation issues

Child Protection Allegations in Private Family Law Proceedings: Implications for Practitioners and Clients

Catherine Ghent

What is abuse: Children First Act 2015:

  • Acting for a client making allegations:
    • Reporting procedures - legal and practical considerations in ongoing proceedings
    • How to progress investigations on a client’s behalf

  • Acting for a client accused of abuse:
    • The investigative process and issues for family lawyers
    • How to deal with false allegations
    • How to deal with true allegations

  • Expert witnesses: who to call and how to cross-examine
  • The role of the lawyer and the obligation to report
  • District Court Rules: recent developments
  • Circuit Court Rules: recent developments

A Review of Recent Case Law

Mary O'Toole, SC

This section of the seminar will highlight case law of concern to practitioners across a wide range of family law topics.

Judgments of the Court of Appeal

Family law practitioners need to be aware of the judgments being handed down by the Court of Appeal. The Court has set out its views on how the factors in Section 16 of the 1995 Act are to be applied and the correct approach to deal with allegations of litigation and financial misconduct. In addition, the Court has looked at when conduct can be taken into account in granting relief. They have also considered circumstances where there has been a previous decree of judicial separation and what the correct approach to making provision on divorce is in those circumstances.

Judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union

There have been recent developments in the Court of Justice of the European Union in interpreting the provisions of Brussels II bis, and the practical application of same. The seminar will analyse recent decisions of the Court on issues such as which Court is first seized for the purposes of Brussels II bis. The seminar will also look at the recent jurisprudence of the Court on Article 15 transfers pursuant to Brussels II bis.

Judgments of the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court have recently heard appeals in connection with a number of family law related topics. Judgment is awaited from the Supreme Court in a case concerning whether a habeas corpus application lies from a decision of the District Court under the Child Care Act 1991. The Supreme Court is also about to hear a case concerning polygamous marriages, and whether same can be recognised in Ireland. Hopefully, that judgment will be available in time for the conference. In addition, the Court has recently considered Isaac Wunder Orders in the family law context.

Judgments of the High Court

The seminar will look at recent High Court decisions such as that concerning a dispute between spouses who are owners of a farm, the issue of varying post nuptial settlements, and how to deal with provision on divorce where the judicial separation application was settled, but was impossible to implement because of the loss of value of property.

The seminar will also highlight a number of recent cases of interest concerning children in care, and children in secure care.

These times include a 20 minute networking coffee break.

To book your place, click book on the top of this page.

You can pay by credit/debit card or choose to be invoiced.

For any further queries you may have call 01 8788 255 or email

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