One Family Welcomes Children & Family Relationships Bill as a Major Step to Recognising Family Diversity and Change in Ireland:
but to work it requires investment
(Dublin, Thursday 25 September 2014) One Family – Ireland’s organisation for one-parent families and people sharing parenting – welcomes the publication of the Children & Family Relationships Bill 2014 by Minister Frances Fitzgerald today. As an organisation with 42 years of expertise in supporting diverse families in Ireland, One Family acknowledges that this Bill is groundbreaking in recognising the complexity of family arrangements that children live in today.
Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO explains: “We are pleased that the Bill will provide the ability for people who live with and care for children such as step-parents, grandparents and foster-parents to seek guardianship, as well as wider family members to seek contact time. It assists in the somewhat stressful process for some unmarried fathers in becoming guardians of their children as more will become automatic guardians. We welcome the fact that many of One Family’s recommendations were listened to and that the important section on Making Parenting Orders Work has been expanded and clarified.”
“The elucidation of the importance of the concept of the ‘best interests of the child’ and the impact of violence in a family is extremely welcome as is the ability of the Court to request reports and expert testimony on the welfare of any child. However the major problem in One Family’s experience is that there is no court welfare system in Ireland and what exists currently is unregulated and expensive. Our work in the pilot Child Contact Centres with Barnardos resulted in comprehensive family and child assessments and this is what is required in many families where they are in dispute in court. Family law courts are currently making inappropriate decisions about children resulting in unsafe or unsuitable access and custody arrangements as they have no evidence on which to base their decisions.”
The Bill recognises the importance of measures to resolve family issues outside court including tools such as mediation, counselling, the development of an agreement and parenting programmes. Also welcome is the fact that no judge, barrister or solicitor should wear a wig or gown during family law proceedings.
Karen continues: “Of major concern to us in One Family is the fact that all costs relating to court process, mediation, counselling and parenting supports seems to be borne by the parents involved in family law matters. This is not realistic for many parents who are struggling to make ends meet and government needs to invest in ancillary family support services to court which will assist this Bill in being successful in the resolution of family law disputes outside court.”
The Press Release issued this afternoon by the Department of Justice can be read here.
About One Family
One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish and is Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families 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 1890 62 22 12, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. One Family also promotes Family Day and presents the Family Day Festival every May, an annual celebration of the diversity of families in Ireland today (www.familyday.ie). For further information, visit www.onefamily.ie.
Available for Interview
Karen Kiernan, CEO | t: 01 662 9212 or 086 850 9191
Shirley Chance, Director of Communications | t: 01 662 9212 or 087 414 8511