Access to Justice
1. Access to Courts
|Court Offices||Court Sittings||What is an urgent case in family law?|
|What is an urgent case in child care law?||What is considered non-urgent?||Adjournments and cancellations|
Find latest updates on the Court website in relation to Covid-19 restrictions.
Court Offices will remain open. However, attendance at public counters is for urgent business only and social distancing rules must be strictly adhered to. Details here.
Communications with the public offices should be by phone or email and documentation should be sent by post or through drop box facilities provided.
You can email or ring or write to your nearest court office, contact details and opening hours are available here. Drop boxes have been provided along with date stamped envelopes that you can place your papers in. The papers will be processed by the office and returned to you by post. Include your phone number in case the office needs to contact you.
Courts will sit but only for urgent cases and cases not involving witnesses.
There are NO restrictions on Domestic Violence applications, and they will be given priority. All other cases will be adjourned.
Domestic Violence applications are regarded as urgent matters during the Covid-19 crisis so you can still come to court if you need an interim barring order or protection order.
New applications for protection orders, interim barring orders and return hearings of interim barring order cases will be heard.
If safety order hearings are being adjourned, interim protective orders will be extended to the date that your safety order hearing is adjourned to.
The Courts website has produced A Guide to Domestic Violence which is an easy to follow and very informative page detailing the various orders that can be applied for. It also takes you step-by-step through the court process and contains information about what happens after the court grants an order. The Guide provides a link to the relevant court forms with guidance as to how to make an application nd more general advice and information for those affected by domestic abuse, containing links to support groups and information on applying for an order.
The Legal Aid Board continues to operate during the Covid-19 pandemic, with a dedicated webpage providing details of how they are currently operating. You can apply for legal aid, if you need assistance with the court application, legal advice or court representation. You might qualify for legal aid if you cannot afford a private solicitor. You can check whether you are likely to qualify here.
Please note that waiting lists are in operation at most of the Board’s Law Centres and that applicants for legal services under the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995, are required to satisfy a means test and other criteria as laid down in the Act.
Applications can be made online or through your local law centre, details here. Alternatively, you can request an application form which can be submitted via post. However, at present, given the Covid 19 restrictions, all law centres are closed to the public but can be contacted by phone and email. The Legal & Mediation Information Helpline information remains open on lo-call 1890 615 200 or 01 646 9600 and full details are available here.
Child Care Orders
Extension of care orders; interim care orders; emergency care orders and exceptional or urgent interim care orders are considered urgent cases and will be heard.
The courts are facilitating uncontested extensions of interim care orders through email from solicitors working on behalf of the Child & Family Agency [Tusla]. All documentation (sworn affidavits, written parental consent and guardian ad litems reports) is processed through email. The Court will then rule on the matter and the order, if granted will be issued by the court office. Full details of the process can be found here.
If your child/children have been taken into care or the Child & Family Agency [Tusla] has informed you that it intends to apply to the court for an order to take them into care, you can apply for legal aid to assist you with these proceedings, contact details above.
Cases that do not fall into the categories of urgent cases are deemed to be non-urgent and will not be heard by the court during the Covid-19 crisis.
Parties with non-urgent cases are no longer required to attend court. Solicitors are to inform clients that they do not need to attend where their case is a non-urgent matter. Non-urgent cases will be adjourned, and parties will be told of their new court dates by ordinary post or by their solicitor or barrister where one is present.
Civil matters (cases between two parties) can be adjourned by consent via email. These matters are considered to be non-urgent and will be adjourned generally with liberty to re-enter either on consent or on notice to the other party.
Further information about adjournments and cancellations can be found at http://www.courts.ie/ under “Changes as a result of Covid-19.” Scroll down to find a list of postings and links from the various courts, detailing adjournments, urgent changes and up to date notices.
2. Access to Representation
|Legal Aid Board||Law Centres||Courts Service||Private Representation||Free Legal Advice Centre (FLAC)|
There is a significant reduction in court sittings because of the requirements of public health and safety as a result of the Covid 19 crisis, outlined in more detail under the Access to Courts section of this website. However, the courts are hearing urgent cases and the following services are available.
The Legal Aid Board continues to operate, you can apply for legal aid, if you need assistance with the court application, legal advice or court representation. You might qualify for legal aid if you cannot afford a private solicitor. You can check whether you are likely to qualify here.
Given the Covid 19 restrictions, all law centres are closed to the public but can be contacted by phone and email, see their dedicated webpage providing details of how they are currently operating. Applications can be made online or through your local law centre, details here. However, at present, The Legal & Mediation Information Helpline information remains open on lo-call 1890 615 200 or 01 646 9600 and full details are available here.
The courts are hearing and prioritising domestic violence applications and if you need assistance with an application for an order you can apply via a solicitor or by yourself. Legal aid may be available to those who cannot afford a private solicitor. If a solicitor is not involved, you will need to contact your local District Court office. While legal representation is not necessary for the initial application, it is highly recommended for the full court hearing.
The Courts Services provide an accessible and informative webpage on domestic violence, providing detailed information on the available court orders and the application process, including who can apply (such as spouses, civil partners and co-habiting couples) and how to apply. Information is also available on the court process and the implementation and enforcement of the court order.
The courts are hearing applications from the Child & Family Agency [Tusla] for orders to take children into care or renew orders already in place.
The Government restriction announced on 28th March on travelling to work except where work is an essential service has included as an essential service; solicitors and barristers whose services are necessary in order to support vulnerable people. These restrictions have been fully reinstated as of the 22/10/20. However, these legal services remain essential.
To find a solicitor go to the Law Society website and click on the ‘Find a Solicitor.’
FLAC Centres are closed during the Covid 19 crisis but a phone line offering basic legal information (not legal advice) to the public is open and you can contact them at
Lo-Call 1890 350 250 or 01-8745690.
As stated above, the FLAC phone lines are open, offering basic legal information. This service is available from 9.30am-1pm Monday to Friday. An additional window to seek advice has been made available on Monday’s 7pm to 9pm. Clinics with a legal professional are being conducted via phone. This can be booked through the helpline.
3. Access to Mediation
|The Legal Aid Board||Private Mediation|
Given the Covid-19 restrictions all law centres are closed, and mediation services cannot be accessed in person. The Legal Aid Board has established a nationwide Legal & Mediation Information Helpline in response to the Covid-19 crisis that you can call for information on its mediation service and how to apply - lo-call 1890 615 200 or 01 646 9600 and full details are available here.
An explanation of the mediation process is available here and the Legal Aid Board has produced a useful document on family mediation, containing useful and accessible information on the mediation process and includes advice on supporting children during separation, working out a parental plan, managing finances, managing stress and coping with grief and loss.
It is possible to find a qualified solicitor who is a trained family mediator at https://www.lawsociety.ie/. Under the ‘find a solicitor’ link there is a list of family mediators/solicitors, categorised by County, with qualifications and contact details listed.