Here you can find ALL Ireland’s current family law legislation.
Just click on the title of the Act or Regulation.

Married Women’s Property (Ireland) Act 1865: permitted a wife to sue her husband in tort if separated or deserted.

Partition Acts 1868 and 1876: allowed courts to divide property between spouses.

Matrimonial Causes and Marriage Law (Ireland) (Amendment) Act 1870: brought civil nullity rules into line with Church rules.

Married Women’s Property Act 1882: allowed married women to hold property in their own name. Replaced by:

Married Women’s Status Act 1957: made wives liable for their own debts and breaches of duty. Allowed courts to decide property disputes between spouses.

Guardianship of Infants Act 1964: gave parents the right to joint guardianship of their children and allowed courts to make decisions on custody and access. Significantly amended by the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015.

Succession Act 1965: reformed the law relating to the estates of people who had died, especially the administration and distribution of property where there is no will. Specified the shares of spouses and children on intestacy (but see the 2015 Act).

Marriages Act 1972: raised the minimum marriage age to 16 for boys and girls, retrospectively validated so-called “Lourdes marriages”.

Maintenance Orders Act 1974: allowed the reciprocal enforcement of maintenance orders between the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, England and Wales and Scotland.

Family Law (Maintenance of Spouses and Children) Act 1976: provided for periodical payments by one spouse to another in cases of failure to provide reasonable maintenance, with deductions of earnings at source and barring orders (but see the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015).

Family Home Protection Act 1976: protected the family home and required prior written consent of both spouses for sale of family home or chattels.

Courts Act 1981: widened the jurisdiction in family law matters.

Family Law Act 1981: abolished actions for enticement of spouse and breach of promise to marry. Allowed courts to decide disputes over gifts after broken engagements (but see the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015).

Family Law (Protection of Spouses and Children) Act 1981: gave the Circuit and District Courts power to grant barring and protection orders. (Repealed by: Domestic Violence Act 1996)

Domicile and Recognition of Foreign Divorces Act 1986: confirmed independent domiciles of wives, recognised divorces granted where either spouse was domiciled. (The Irish government proposes to change this law if a referendum is carried on 24 May 2019.)

Status of Children Act 1987: abolished status of illegitimacy and amended law on maintenance and succession for non-marital children. Allowed unmarried fathers to apply for guardianship of their children. Provided for blood tests to establish paternity (but see the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015).

Family Law Act 1988: abolished actions for the restitution of conjugal rights.

Children Act 1989: gave health boards powers to care for children.

Judicial Separation and Family Law Reform Act 1989: amended the grounds for judicial separation, assisted reconciliation between estranged spouses and provided for ancillary orders, such as maintenance, property adjustment and custody of children.

Child Care Act 1991: gave health boards the power to care for children who were ill-treated, neglected or sexually abused.

Child Abduction and Enforcement of Custody Orders Act 1991: dealt with wrongful retention of children. Implemented the Hague Convention 1980 and the Luxembourg Convention 1980.

Maintenance Act 1994: simplified procedures for recovering maintenance debts from other countries.

Family Law Act 1995: raised the minimum age for marriage to 18 and required three months’ written notice to local registrar, abolished petitions for jactitation of marriage (falsely claiming to be married to someone), provided for declarations of marital status, and ancillary orders after judicial separation or foreign divorce (but see the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015).

Domestic Violence Act 1996: extended safety, barring and protection orders to non-spouses, gave health boards powers to apply for orders, allowed arrest without warrant for breach. Repealed by the Domestic Violence Act 2018.

Family Law (Divorce) Act 1996: allowed divorce and remarriage in the Republic of Ireland for the first time, with all ancillary orders. Section 51 repealed by the Domestic Violence Act 2018. (The Irish government proposes to change this law if a referendum is carried on 24 May 2019.)

Children Act 1997: recognised natural fathers as guardians, allowed children’s views to be considered in guardianship, access and custody matters, allowed parents to have joint custody.

Family Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1997: amended the law in relation to notification of intention to marry, barring orders, powers of attorney and distribution of disclaimed estates.

Non-Fatal Offences against the Person Act 1997: s 16 dealt with the abduction of a child by a parent.

Parental Leave Act 1998: gave effect to EU Directive 96/34/EC allowing parents to take up to 14 weeks’ unpaid leave.

Protections For Persons Reporting Child Abuse Act 1998: in the case of someone who had bona fide reported child abuse to a designated officer, this Act protected them from a civil liability suit or from being penalised by their employer.

Protection of Children (Hague Convention) Act 2000: implemented the Hague Convention on the protection of children into Irish law and sets up the Central Authority to deal with cases involving children up to 18 years old.

European Council Regulation 1347/2000: allowed – subject to certain conditions – the mutual recognition in all EU Member States (except Denmark) of court orders relating to divorce, legal separation, nullity or child custody. Replaced by: European Council Regulation 2201/2003

Children Act 2001: authorised courts to order health boards to convene a family welfare conference where a child requires special care or protection. The health board can apply for a care order or supervision order if necessary.

Domestic Violence (Amendment) Act 2002: amended the Domestic Violence Act 1996 to provide eight day limit for ex parte interim barring orders, changed grounds on which ex parte orders could be granted. Repealed by the Domestic Violence Act 2018.

European Council Regulation 2201/2003: concerned jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in matrimonial matters and matters of parental responsibility.

Civil Registration Act 2004: reorganised and modernised the system of registration of marriages, divorces and nullity (but see the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015).

Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004: allowed the publication of decisions in certain family law proceedings, subject to not identifying the parties.

Parental Leave (Amendment) Act 2006: allowed the parents of a born or adopted child to take unpaid leave for 18 working weeks.

Adoption Act 2010: required consultation with fathers of children to be adopted (but see the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015).

Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010: established civil partnership for same-sex couples, and varied obligations for unmarried people living together (but see the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015).

Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011: amended the Domestic Violence Act 1996, transferred the mediation functions of the Family Support Agency to the Legal Aid Board and amended the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010.

Jurisdiction of Courts and Enforcement of Judgments (Amendment) Act 2012: amended the Maintenance Act 1994 to take into account the 2007 Lugano Convention.

Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2013: amended in camera rules for family courts, strengthened provisions for the enforcement of maintenance orders, increased the civil jurisdiction of District and Circuit courts.

Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance: became law in the EU (as well as Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Norway and Ukraine) in August 2014. It makes the enforcement of court decisions relating to maintenance easier and requires contracting states to set up central authorities for maintenance enforcement.

Civil Registration (Amendment) Act 2014: allowed civil registration authorities to refuse to accept ‘marriages of convenience’. Came into effect in August 2015.

Children and Family Relationships Act 2015: dealt with assisted human reproduction, widened the range of applicants who might apply for court orders in relation to children and amended several pieces of legislation, including the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964, the Succession Act 1965, the Family Law (Maintenance of Spouses and Children) Act 1976, the Status of Children Act 1987, the Family Law Act 1995, the Civil Registration Act 2004, the Passports Act 2008 (providing for a new affidavit for a sole guardian), the Adoption Act 2010 and the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010. From 18 January 2016, the sections dealing with automatic guardianship for unmarried fathers and applications from unmarried couples to become guardians or custodians of a child were brought into force. The parts dealing with embryo transplantation HAVE NOT BEEN COMMENCED YET.

Children (Amendment) Act 2015: dealt with the detention of children (under 18 years).

Children First Act 2015: abolished the common law defence of ‘reasonable chastisement’, legislated for child safeguarding statements, required reports to the Child and Family Agency in certain circumstances and set up the Children First Inter-Departmental Implementation Group.

Marriage Act 2015: amended the Civil Registration Act 2004 to allow ‘marriage’ between two people (including civil partners) of the same sex. Religious bodies are not obliged to recognise such ceremonies. (The European Court of Human Rights, in the 2016 case of Chapin and Charpentier v France, unanimously ruled that the issue of same-sex ‘marriage’ was subject to national law in the 47 contracting states. It said Article 12 of the Convention sanctioned only the traditional concept of marriage, that is the union of a man and a woman, and their right to found a family.)

Courts Act 2016: amended the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 to give the Circuit Court jurisdiction over properties valued at up to €3 million in cases begun after 28 December 2016.

Paternity Leave and Benefit Act 2016: granted an entitlement to two weeks’ paternity leave in the 26 weeks after the birth or adoption of a child from 1 September 2016. Employers do not have to pay employees on paternity leave, but they may qualify for benefit from the Department of Social Protection if they have enough PRSI contributions.

Adoption (Amendment) Act 2017: came into effect on 19 October 2017, repealed Part 11 of the 2015 Act and amended parts of the Adoption Act 2010, including removing previous automatic restrictions on adoption, except the adopted child must still be under 18 years old. The Act extended the right to adopt to couples living together in a civil partnership (or cohabiting together for at least three years) and step-parents.

Mediation Act 2017: amended the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964, the Judicial Separation and Family Law Reform Act 1989 and the Family Law (Divorce) Act 1996, and required solicitors to make a statutory declaration that they had informed clients seeking judicial separation or divorce about mediation as an alternative to court, and about the privacy and enforcability of mediation agreements.

Parental Leave (Amendment) Bill 2017: amends the Parental Leave Act 1998, extending the period of unpaid parental leave from 18 to 26 weeks.

Children and Family Relationships (Amendment) Act 2018: will amend sections 4, 14 and 16 of the principal Act, but HAS NOT BEEN COMMENCED YET.

Domestic Violence Act 2018: introduced emergency barring orders (s 9), ‘coercive control’ orders, being psychological abuse that causes fear that persistent violence will be used against a person in an intimate relationship with the accused, or serious distress that has a substantial adverse impact on a person’s day-to-day activities (s 39), and ‘forced marriage’ orders (s 38), or being involved in the removal of a person from the State intending her to enter into a marriage ceremony.

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