Family and Childcare Law

Family Law is a sensitive and extremely personal area.

The breakdown of a marriage or relationship is one of the most traumatic and stressful events a person is likely to experience. The situation is made even more difficult where children are involved. We understand that such situations must be handled in a sensitive manner and we are committed to providing a professional and understanding service to our clients.

Our primary objective is to deal with family law matters as expeditiously as possible in a cost-effective manner.

The breakdown of a relationship or marriage can result in serious financial and property ownership implications for clients. Also where there are children involved, solutions in relation to their welfare must be found. At Walsh & Partners, we can provide practical legal advice and assistance in relation to the family home and other assets, custody of children, pensions, financial and taxation implications.

Marital Breakdown

The breakdown of a marriage can be a very traumatic time for the couple and their family. Walsh & Partners fully understand the sensitive nature of family law litigation, particularly when it relates to children and we feel that it is vital that the client is listened to and is understood.

As with any area of law, it is important that the client is fully advised of all the available options and kept advised of all progress made. We focus on practical solutions that work for our client in both the short term and long term.

Our areas of expertise include but are not limited to the following:

  • Separation agreements
  • Judicial Separation and Divorce
  • Court proceedings
  • Pre-nuptial and co-habitation agreements
  • Access, Custody and Maintenance
  • Childcare law
  • Succession Rights and the family home
  • Property and Asset disputes

Farming and Divorce

We have a proven track record of negotiating successful outcomes for farmers who are facing a divorce or separation.

We understand that you need prompt action in a reassuring environment and will treat your issues with the utmost delicacy and respect. We offer a sensitive and personalised approach while ensuring all possible outcomes and implications of any legal action are clearly understood by you before proceeding. We strive to achieve the best outcome for our clients and we do so with a friendly voice.

Consult a solicitor who has knowledge of how a farm works and what is involved in the day to day running of a farm. Speak with us and we will help you weight up the advantages and disadvantages before you make any decision.

If you have exhausted counselling and mediation, and you find that your marriage has irretrievably broken down, the first step you should take is to consult us as soon as possible, as we have knowledge of how a farm works, and what is involved in the day-to-day running of a farm.

Do not make rash decisions. While your personal life might be in turmoil, a farming business needs attention, and the usual day-to-day decisions and work still needs to be attended to, and this is a time when both parties need to reach an early decision on daily practicalities.

Try to avoid court, where possible. Do your best to keep the relationship on amicable terms. It is better to negotiate a settlement outside the courtroom. It will reduce costs, and the parties involved will know a great deal more about the workings of their own farming business, and what a sustainable solution is, than a learned judge.

In order to ensure that the farm is kept intact, creative solutions are required to achieve a solution that both sides are satisfied with. We will negotiate on your behalf and try to resolve the matter out of court.

Divorce in Ireland does not take fault into account. Be practical. The role of the court is to divide assets, in order to provide financial support for spouses and children, and reach agreements in relation to custody. Explore the options. Dividing the farm is rarely an option, unless the holding is significant, and the smaller holding will rarely be viable to provide an income. Often, the income from the farm is the only source of income.

A divorce does not automatically mean that the spouse is entitled to half the farm; the court must ensure that proper provision is made for both parties and dependants.

It may be possible that the spouse takes a lump sum payment and/or the family home. It may be the case that the spouse receives a property located away from the family home.

Perhaps the spouse could be given non-farming assets, such as cash, pension funds, shares or an investment property.

In relation to the family home, it is often located on the farm, where the sheds and outhouses are also located. Having a former spouse living in the family home on the farm can lead to difficulties and resentment, especially if another partner moves in. This should be borne in mind.

Also, if a farmer lives too far away from the farm, he is not in a position to simply walk to the outhouse in the middle of the night to check on the cow that is due to calve.

Farmers may be asset rich and cash poor, and it is important to be realistic in relation to making periodic payments to spouses, or giving lump sums. A farm may also be heavily mortgaged.

Attention also has to be given to the seasonal nature of farming and the fact that EU subsidies form a significant portion of many farm incomes.

If you cannot resolve matters outside of court, we will represent your interest fully and endeavour to achieve the best result for you.

There is no magic formula or ‘one size fits all’ solution, but what is important is who you consult and how you approach it.  We care and we are here to help.

Our areas of expertise include but are not limited to the following:

  • Separation Agreements
  • Judicial Separation and Divorce
  • Court Proceedings
  • Pre-Nuptial and Co-Habitation Agreements
  • Access, Custody and Maintenance
  • Childcare Law
  • Succession Rights
  • Property and Asset Disputes

Access, Guardianship and Custody

Walsh & Partners has extensive experience in applying for and defending applications for

  • Access
  • Guardianship
  • Custody

This can be an extremely emotive area and we are committed to dealing with all matters in a professional and understanding manner. Our policy is to reach agreement without recourse to the Courts if possible but if this is not possible we use the full resources available through the Court system.

The Courts can be asked to vary existing Orders. An Access Order, in particular, reflects what is in the best welfare of the child at the time the Order was granted. This changes as time passes and the court can vary any Order if required.

It is not only parents who can bring access proceedings. Partners who have acted in locus parentis, grandparents and other relatives can also apply to the Court, if necessary, for access. The process is slightly longer and again it is the welfare of the child which is central to the Courts decision making process.

Maintenance

The Courts can grant both:

  • Spousal maintenance
  • Child maintenance

Child maintenance is payable until the child is 18 or in full time education or reaches the age of 23, whichever is earliest.

The Courts consider the income, outgoings, assets and liabilities of both parties during an application for maintenance and take all relevant factors into account.

The Court can specify how maintenance is to be paid – for example either directly or through the local District Court Clerk.

If arrears of maintenance arise, an application can be made to the Court to enforce maintenance. In certain circumstances the court can jail a Maintenance Debtor who has not complied with the Maintenance Order.

If necessary, the Court can be asked to grant an Attachment of Earnings Order which means that the maintenance payable will be deducted from the Maintenance Debtors wages by their employer and paid to the Maintenance Creditor.

If circumstances change from when a Maintenance Order was granted, an application can be made to the court to vary the Maintenance Order.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is one of the most sensitive areas of legal practice. Legislation, being the Domestic Violence Act, 1996, provides for Protection Orders, Safety Orders, Interim Barring Orders and Barring Orders to be granted to those who require them.

We have extensive experience in securing these Orders at both the District Court and Circuit Court as well as defending applications seeking them.

All family law proceedings are held ‘in camera’ which means that only those directly involved in the case are allowed be present in court.

Fertility Treatment and Surrogacy

The area of fertility treatment and surrogacy is an emerging and complex area of law. There is currently no legislation governing surrogacy in Ireland and the traditional position is that the surrogate mother is considered the legal mother and guardian of the child owing to the fact that she gave birth to the child.

Parents who go abroad to avail of surrogacy services face further challenges when they seek to establish their child’s Irish citizenship and obtain an Irish passport for their child. Walsh & Partners has particular expertise in this emerging area and can advise you on the complex issues involved.

Cohabitants

Until the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010 came into effect on the 1st of January 2011, people who resided with their partner in a long term relationship had no rights to seek a Property Adjustment Order, a Pension Adjustment Order or a Maintenance Order in respect of themselves. If the relationship ceased through a break-up or death, the surviving cohabitant partner could be left in a very precarious financial position. The 2010 Act provides a mechanism by which a partner can ask the court for certain reliefs including those listed above.

It is possible for cohabitants to contract out of the right to bring an application under the 2010 Act by entering into a Cohabitants Agreement. These agreements are very strictly construed and we would strongly recommend that both parties seek legal advice to ensure the provisions are enforceable.