Going to Court/Agreement FAQ

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  • 1. Going to court/Agreement
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  • 1. How long will mediation take and how much will it cost in comparison to traditional litigation?

    It is hard to generalise about costs and duration in family law cases – each one will be determined on its own facts. The length of time a case will take will depend on how many issues need to be resolved, how assets will be divided and how eager parties are to finalise their outstanding issues. If one party is not realistic in their demands, or is being obstructive, the mediation process will take longer, or may even breakdown. Equally, the costs will depend on how many professionals need to be engaged to help achieve resolution, i.e.  psychologists or doctors who may need to give evidence.

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  • 2. If I have experienced domestic violence or sexual abuse during my relationship is mediation the right process for me?

    If the relationship has been affected by damaging and controlling behaviour including physical or emotional violence it is advisable to seek professional legal advice. Traditionally, mediation is not suitable for dealing with the breakup of abusive relationships.

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  • 3. If mediation is unsuccessful will I still be entitled to pursue a separation/divorce through the traditional process?

    Yes, if negotiation breaks down, or if there are certain issues which were not possible to resolve either party is entitled to go to court.

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  • 4. Am I entitled to legal aid?

    Your entitlement to legal aid will depend on your income/assets. Legal aid will not be granted if your disposable income is above €18,000 or, your disposable capital (not including the property in which you live, if you own it) is above €100,000. Prior to going to court, the legal aid board will consider the merits of the case and if you are approved the Legal Aid Board will issue with a legal aid certificate.

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  • 5. For mediation do you have to engage a solicitor?

    No, but it is advisable to seek legal advice before you decide on this path to resolution as it is important that you are fully aware of what you are entitled to. Also, it is advisable to seek advice in respect of any mediated agreement prior to signing it.

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  • 6. Will there be a jury?

    All family law cases are heard “in camera” – which means they are heard in private without a jury or members of the public being present in the courtroom. All family law hearings are strictly confidential.

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  • 7. Who Attends a Family Law Hearing?

    The Judge will be there, along with his/her clerk. The two parties will attend, with their legal representatives if applicable.

    In certain instances, you can get permission before the hearing to bring a friend with you for emotional support.

    Expert witnesses can present evidence as required but will not stay in the courtroom throughout the entire duration of the hearing.

    Journalists and academic researchers are entitled to sit in on family law cases if they have prior permission from the Judge however, they are not allowed to report any identifying information regarding cases and cannot publish or discuss any personal/identifying details of proceedings after the hearing has concluded.

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  • 8. What are the main things to know before going to court if I decide to represent myself?

    When you decide to represent yourself you are what the legal profession calls a lay litigant.

    In order to do represent yourself, you will need to have a clear statement of financial circumstances to give to the Judge – this should include details of all your assets, liabilities, debts and income. It is important that this statement also outlines all financial outgoings for the year.

    It is vital when presenting your case you give an overview of your circumstances and what you want from the court, e.g. what kind of custody and access you are seeking in relation the children of the involved?

    You will have to clearly set out what orders/relief you seek from the court, so it is important to be familiar with the types of order that are likely to be relevant to your case.

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