Family Law 2019, Chaired by The Hon. Ms. Justice Marie Baker, Court of Appeal.  

There have been significant developments in family law in recent times.
These range from the impact of Brexit to the Domestic Violence Act 2018 (which came into force on
January 1st 2019).

A further concern to practitioners are issues in relation to the non-marital family as well as forensic accounting in matrimonial litigation.

The object of this seminar is to highlight such developments and to alert practitioners to the problems and pitfalls likely to be encountered in day to day practice.
Conference line up:
  • The Non- Marital Family: Mary Hayes, Gore and Grimes
  • The Domestic Violence Act, 2018  (which came into force on January 1st 2019): Keith Walsh, Chair of the Law Society’s Child & Family Law Committee
  • The Role of the Forensic Accountant in Matrimonial Litigation: Dervilla Whelan. DLS Partners, Accountants
  • The Fate of Family Law Post Brexit: Jennifer O'Brien, International Family Law Chambers

The Non- Marital Family
  • The Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Co-Habitants Act, 2010: How the legislation differs from all previous family law legislation
  • Who is a “qualified co-habitant”?
  • What will be regarded by a court as an “intimate and committed relationship”?
  • Does a relationship cease to be an intimate relationship merely because it is no longer sexual in nature?
  • Is a court likely to take the fact that the couple considered getting married into account in reaching a decision as to whether a relationship is a committed relationship? DC v DR
  • What is the appropriate test? Is it sufficient to establish that a reasonable person who knows the couple would regard them as living in a committed and intimate relationship? DC v DR
  • The qualifying period: How has the Court of Appeal interpreted section 172(5) of the legislation on the issue of whether the periods of co-habitation required under the Act can be aggregated, or must be continuous in nature? MW v DC
  • Will a court overlook periods of separation during the qualifying period? MW v DC
  • What are the implications of this judgment for circumstances where there is a break in the relationship and a resumption of the relationship before it finally ends?
  • Who is a financially dependent co-habitant? Is such a claimant entitled to “proper provision”?
  • Claims out of the estate of a deceased co-habitant under section 194 of the legislation: Must the applicant prove financial dependence? DC v DR 
  • The two-year rule: what does living apart for two years mean?
  • What property benefit reliefs should be sought?
  • Is inherited property or property acquired before the relationship commenced and independently of any direct or indirect contribution from the other party, treated differently by the court? DC v DR

The Domestic Violence Act, 2018

The Domestic Violence Act, 2018 amends and consolidates existing legislation and came into force on 1 January.
The changes introduced are fundamental and far-reaching.

This section of the seminar will provide practitioners with a practical guide to the implications of the legislation.  

The matters to be addressed include the following:

  • The elements of the new offence of coercive control
  • What factors must the court consider when deciding whether to grant or refuse a domestic violence order?
  • Is the court obliged to make an order once the threshold for making an order has been reached?
  • Must the court give reasons for its decision to grant or refuse an order? 
  • The widening of the definition of applicant: Are all partners in an intimate relationship now eligible for safety and protection orders? Is there a necessity to prove that it was also a committed relationship?
  • Does an application for an ex- parte protection order require a grounding affidavit or information sworn by the applicant?
  • Eligibility for barring orders and interim barring orders: Is there any minimum period of cohabitation required for cohabitant couples?
  • Must the applicant prove that he/ she was in an intimate relationship and satisfy the requisite property test?
  • Is the court precluded from making a barring order where a safety order was solely applied for?
  • Applications for ex- parte Interim Barring Orders:  Must the grounding affidavit include a statement as to whether the property from which it is sought to bar the respondent is also the respondent’s place of business?
  • Can an applicant who cannot satisfy the relevant property test apply for an emergency barring order?
  • Behaviour prohibited by orders: Does the judge have the power to prohibit a respondent from following and/or communicating electronically with the applicant or dependent person/child?
  • Protection against cross- examination conducted by the applicant/ respondent in person: Can children giving evidence be cross -examined in person by the applicant or the respondent? What is the position in relation to adults giving evidence?
  • Can the court seek the views of the child where a safety or barring order is sought on behalf of or will partly relate to a child?

The Role of the Forensic Accountant in Matrimonial Litigation

Complex financial issues are frequently at the forefront of matrimonial litigation. If one spouse is suspicious of unreported income or hidden assets, it can be critical for the solicitor to work with a forensic accountant to ensure the best outcome for your client.

The matters to be addressed include the following:

  • The role of the Forensic accountant
  • Types of cases where a forensic accountant is required
  • At what stage in the proceedings it would be advisable to bring in the forensic accountant
  • How to formulate requests for documents as part of the discovery process after a review of the vouching documents supporting the Affidavit of Means
  • The process
  • How many years vouching should be requested
  • The report
  • Liaising with the accountant acting for the other Party
  • Preparation of the D v D Schedule
  • The presentation of the information to the Court
  • How an accountant with expertise in Tax, Pensions and Financial Planning can assist the Family Law Practitioner in structuring a financial settlement

The Fate of Family Law Post Brexit

Whether it involves a divorce between parties in Donegal and Derry or Dublin and London, inter-jurisdictional family law post Brexit disputes will affect not only wealthy litigants but also those who can least afford it. This section of the seminar will alert practitioners to the issues which they will need to consider in such proceedings.
  • How will disputes in relation to jurisdiction in divorce in such cases be resolved?
  • Will an Irish Court remain obliged to consider the provisions of Brussells 11 bis when examining jurisdictional matters pertaining to a non-EU jurisdiction?
  • Is the court likely instead to apply the principles of private international law and the doctrine of forum conveniens at the inception of proceedings?
  • Will litigation to establish which court is seized of the proceedings have adverse effects for clients?
  • Since the lis pendens rule in relation to the stay of proceedings pending determination as to which court is first seized may no longer apply in the UK, are parallel proceedings in Britain and Ireland likely to become a reality?
  • What difficulties will arise in relation to the recognition and enforcement of orders post Brexit?  
  • To what extent will Brexit complicate the recognition and enforcement of maintenance orders? Might it be necessary to seek mirror orders in Ireland and Britain to ensure enforceability?
  • Recognition of post- Brexit English divorces
  • Should Ireland sign up to the Hague Convention on Recognition of Divorce?