Family Proceedings

The Family Law Civil Bill is served on the respondent.  If the respondent wishes to dispute the matter in part or in whole, he she or  they may serve within 10 days or such extended time as may be permitted or agreed, a defence in a prescribed format.  In the absence of a defence, the court may on a motion give judgment in the terms applied for by the Family Civil Bill.


The Circuit Court has jurisdiction or power in relation to custody, guardianship and access to children.  The natural father of a child who is not married to the child’s mother, may apply to the Circuit Court to be appointed as a guardian.

There is a special procedure to do with the application where the mother consents in writing to the appointment and the father is registered on the  child’s birth certificate.  This latter procedure is designed to be as informal as practicable.  The applicant is brought in the county where the applicant or infant ordinarily resides.

The proceedings are issued by way of a motion applied for in the court office.  As with other court proceedings there are prescribed rules as to what particulars the court documents are to contain particulars.  Where the mother consents, she need not be served with the proceedings. The judge may declare that she be served. The application is based on oral evidence.

Parentage Declaration

An application for a declaration of parentage may be made to the Circuit Court. The  proceedings are initiated by a family law Civil Bill.  The format is prescribed.

Any person named as father or mother of the applicant are to be respondents, if still alive. The court may direct that notice be given to such persons who have an interest in the matter, as it determines.

At the hearing, the court may give directions as may be required. This may include the addition of the Attorney General as party in some limited categories of case.  The case is heard on oral evidence.  The court may direct that it be  heard in private.

Blood Tests

An application for a direction for blood tests is made on motion to the court.  It is served on persons from whom the sample is proposed be taken.  The application is heard on verbal evidence.

Where blood samples have been tested, only the persons controlling the blood sample or who  carried out other functions to enable the test to be done, may be called as a witness unless the court otherwise direct and  unless within 14 days of receiving a copy of the report, he serves a form on the other parties of the proceedings, of his intention to call the witness.

Domestic Violence

The domestic violence legislation gives power to the Circuit Family Court to make safety, barring an interim barring and protection order.  These orders may be made in the application of a spouse, cohabitants, parents or the HSE.  A broadly similar jurisdiction exists in the District Court.


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