Establish family courts before voting on divorce, says former Justice Minister

The Government should establish family law courts to properly protect the best interests of children before instituting a more liberal divorce regime, according to Alan Shatter the former Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence.

Commenting on the proposed divorce referendum in a letter in the Irish Times yesterday, he said it was crucial that a specialist independent family court structure be first put in place. He said it was needed “to ensure the best interests of children and the welfare of dependent spouses are properly protected”.

He was responding to a report that childcare cases are being heard in overcrowded courts alongside criminal cases, in sometimes dilapidated courthouses, without basic facilities or privacy for families.