Half Of All Family Cases For Domestic Violence

Domestic violence accounts for almost half of all cases heard at the Family Law courts and 40pc of safety orders are granted by judges.

The third report on Family Law proceedings, ‘Family Law Matters’, was compiled by Dr Carol Coulter and published yesterday by the Courts Service.

The information can now be made public due to a change in the “in camera” privacy rule, after new legislation was enacted in 2004.

The latest report details hearings involving domestic violence or access to children, to give the public an insight into the working of the Family Law courts.

One custody case involved a mother who began a relationship with a man who was listed as a registered sex offender and accepted by gardai to be a paedophile.

In another case, a schizophrenic father sought joint custody of his child, despite his inability to provide maintenance payments.

Elsewhere, domestic violence between a married couple in their 70s resulted in a three-year safety order being granted against the husband.

The report also detailed statistics from the Circuit Courts of Limerick, Kerry and Clare during October 2006.

Limerick is the state’s third largest centre for family law — 5pc of all judicial separations and divorces were processed there in 2006.

There were 17 child-related cases in Tralee and 15 in Limerick.

In most cases access was agreed and joint custody was awarded, with primary residence of the child with the mother in 15 of those.

Up to 1,500 couples used the Family Mediation Service in 2006.

In the report, the Mediators Institute of Ireland suggested that mediation could be more successful in family law cases if there was a higher standard of regulation and training, an awareness campaign and a move to make mediation agreements recognisable and enforceable by the courts.

The previous in camera rule allowed family law proceedings to be heard in private.

But a new pilot project on reporting the cases began after the the Civil Liability and Courts Act was enacted in 2004.

Dr Coulter conducts research and records cases while concealing the identity of the parties involved.