Lone parent and separating families cautiously optimistic following publication of the new Family Justice Strategy and child maintenance reforms
Putting the needs and voice of children first in family law proceedings will require a root and branch reform of how we manage separation in this country
Wednesday, 16th November 2022
Lone parent and separating families are “cautiously optimistic” following the publication, this afternoon, of the Department of Justice’s new Family Law Strategy and reforms of Child Maintenance according to One Family – Ireland’s national organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting and separating. One Family was a member of the advisory group on the Family Justice Strategy advocating for the needs of separating families and those sharing parenting of their children.
Karen Kiernan CEO of One Family said, “We welcome the publication of the new strategy, which is a ‘step in the right direction’. We particularly welcome the strong commitment to centre the needs and voice of children in family law proceedings which affect them. This will require a root and branch rethink of how we currently manage separation in this country and needs to be adequately funded. We also welcome the publication of the Child Maintenance Review Group Report and the measures to be introduced by the Department of Social Protection. It is good the Department has listened to the major problems and poverty parents have experienced due to their draconian rules. Unfortunately, the Government and review group have not fully understood the need to remove Child Maintenance from an adversarial court system and that will sadly continue.”
Karen Kiernan continued, “What families really require is a well-trained and resourced judiciary who are supported by out of court family supports including specialist services such as assessments for court; child contact centres; therapeutic and parenting services. It is disappointing that there is no plan or resources in this strategy for these necessary family support services. These supports ultimately empower families to make their own decisions and save the state money as well as decreasing family conflict and harm to children. If we know that separating in conflict and being thrown into an adversarial court processes harms parents and causes adverse effects on children – why do we continue to support such a harmful system with state funding?
“One Family has been working on the frontline of helping parents separate well for their children with piecemeal funding for innovative services and critical research. A much more strategic approach is required to ensure all families can benefit from services that are outside the court process as is routinely available in neighbouring countries.”
“This strategy is to be welcomed but we need to see the resources that will be available to support all the various agencies to deliver this strategy. Funding will need to be provided including financial support for some families, to ensure children’s voices are heard.”
Note: One Family will be holding their third webinar on Family Law Reform on 5 December 4-6pm with a range of academics, practitioners and the Dept of Justice to reflect on this strategy, the new Family Courts Bill and emerging research and practice to support separating families. Register here:
One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish and is Ireland’s national organisation for one-parent families and people sharing parenting or separating, offering support, information and services to all members of all one-parent families, to those sharing parenting, to those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and to professionals working with one-parent families. Children are at the centre of One Family’s work and the organisation helps all the adults in their lives, including mums, dads, grandparents, step-parents, new partners and other siblings, offering a holistic model of specialist family support services.
These services include the lo-call askonefamily national helpline on 0818 66 22 12, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. For further information, visit www.onefamily.ie. The askonefamily helpline can be contacted on 0818 66 22 12 or 01-6629212.
Relevant One Family Submissions:
- Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice Submission on the General Scheme of the Family Court Bill. Link here.
- Family Justice Oversight Group Consultation. Link here.
For further information visit: https://onefamily.ie/
Available for Interview
Karen Kiernan, CEO | t: 086 850 9191
Noel Sweeney, Communications and Events Manager | t: 085 7241294