1 Common Questions About Court Orders - Family Law
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The Answers: Common Questions About Court Orders – Family Law

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Here’s everything you need to know about Court Orders, Access, Informal Arrangements and more.

Looking for answers to your most pressing legal questions about family law and court orders? In this article, we’ve answered the most common questions people have when it comes to navigating the legal system in matters relating to family law. So, whether you’re going through a divorce, seeking custody of your children, or simply want to know more about your rights and options, here’s everything you need to know…

Family Law in Ireland – Court Orders
  • What is a Court Order?

    A court order is a legally binding document that is issued by a judge. It specifies the terms of an agreement or decision in a legal case. In Irish Family Law, there are various types of court orders that are made based on the particular issue being dealt with. If you are currently dealing with a family law case, it is crucial to seek legal advice from a lawyer. They can provide you with information on the various types of court orders that are available to you and guide you through the process of applying for an order.

  • Most common types of Court Orders in Irish Family Law

    • Maintenance orders: These orders require one spouse or parent to pay financial support to the other spouse or child.
    • Custody orders: These orders determine who will have primary care and control of a child or if there will be a shared custody arrangment.
    • Access orders: These orders regulate access when the parents / guardians / grandparents cannot agree same.
    • Barring orders: These orders require a person to stay away from another person or a place.
    • Safety orders: These orders require a person to stop committing acts of violence or threatening behaviour.
    • Protection orders: These orders are interim in nature and are granted on an ex-parte basis (without the other party being present)
  • What is Court Ordered Access?

    Court ordered access refers to a court ruling which grants a parent / guardian / grandparent the right to have contact with the child. Court ordered access order will typically specify the following:

    • The frequency and duration of visits
    • Where the visits take place
    • Specific arrangements or conditions for the visits
    • The right of the child to be heard

    The court will consider a number of factors when making a ruling in an access case, including the best interests of the child, the wishes of the child (if the child is old enough to express themselves), the relationship between the parent and the child, and any history of violence or abuse. If a parent or other person fails to comply with an access order, they may be in contempt of court. This could result in fines, imprisonment, or both.

  • Benefits of having an Access Order

    There are benefits of having an access order, these include:

    • It provides certainty and stability for both parents and children.
    • It can help to prevent conflict and disputes between parents.
    • It can help to ensure that the child’s best interests are met.


What’s the difference between Court Ordered Access and an Informal Arrangement?
  • Court-Ordered Access

    Court-Ordered Access (also known as “Ruled Access”) is a legal agreement that is made by a judge. This type of access arrangement is made when the parents of a child cannot agree the contact the non-custodial parent should have with the child. A court-ordered access arrangement will typically specify the The frequency, duration, location and specific arrangements of visits.

    A court-ordered access arrangement is legally binding, which means that if there is a failure to comply with the terms of same, you may seek recourse to the courts to have the access order varied / discharged / enforced.

  • Informal Access

    Informal Access is an agreement that is made between the parents of a child themselves. This type of access arrangement is typically made when the parents are able to communicate with each other and reach an agreement that is in the best interests of the child. An informal access arrangement can be written down or verbal, but it is not legally binding. This means that either parent can change the terms of the arrangement at any time.

    Ideally, it’s best if the parents can come to an informal access arrangement. The informal arrangements can be more flexible and adaptable to changing circumstances, and they can save expense. However, if parents are unable to reach an agreement, they may need to consider applying for a court-ordered access arrangement.  If parents have agreed an access arrangement, they can apply to the court to have this arrangement made a rule of court.

What are Section 32 and Section 47 Reports?
  • Section 32 Report: District Court. Section 47: Circuit Court

    A Section 32 report is applicable in the District Court and a Section 47 report is applicable to the Circuit Court.

    These are reports prepared by a court-appointed expert to help a judge make decisions about the welfare of a child involved in family law proceedings in Ireland. The expert who prepares the report will typically be a child psychologist or other qualified professional with experience in working with children. Prior to the court date, The expert will meet with the child and their parents / guardians to gather information about the child’s circumstances and the issues being considered by the court. If necessary, they will also review any relevant records, such as school reports and medical reports.

    When making decisions about the child’s welfare  The judge will base their decision from the report, along with any other relevant evidence. It’s important to note that the report is not binding on the judge, but it can provide valuable information that can help the judge make informed decisions.

  • A Section 32 / Section 47 report would typically include

    • The child’s age, development, and overall well-being.
    • The child’s relationship with each parent.
    • If old enough, The child’s wishes and feelings about the issues being considered by the court.
    • Any recommendations the expert has for the child’s welfare.
What Maintenance am I entitled to?
  • Spousal Maintenance and Child Maintenance

    There are two types of maintenance available in family law.  These are spousal maintenance and child maintenance. If maintenance cannot be agreed between the parties themselves the matter can be determined by the court. There is no fixed formula for calculating maintenance, and the court will consider a number of factors in making its decision. These factors include:

    • The needs of the person seeking maintenance
    • The means of the person paying maintenance
    • The length of the marriage or civil partnership (if during a Divorce / Judicial Separation)
    • The standard of living the parties enjoyed during the marriage or civil partnership (if during a Divorce / Judicial Separation)
    • The age and education of the parties (if during a Divorce / Judicial Separation)
    • The health and employment status of the parties
    • The care of any other dependent children

    If the parties cannot agree on the amount of maintenance that should be paid, they can apply to the court for a maintenance order. The court will then hold a hearing and make a decision based on the factors listed above.

  • Know your Rights as a Parent


    It’s important for parents who are going through a divorce or relationship breakdown to know that in most jurisdictions, parents have a right to spend time with their children and to make decisions about their upbringing. However, these rights are not absolute, and the courts may order changes to parenting arrangements if it is in the best interests of the children.


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