The District Court is a Court of local and limited jurisdiction but is the work of this Court that the general public hear about most often – have you heard Paddy O’Gorman on the Today with Sean O’Rourke RTE radio show?
The District Court is usually held once or perhaps twice a month in a local town and deals with a variety of cases. From a Family Law point of view it is often the Court of first contact for parties when their relationships have broken down, and they require immediate protection from the Courts. Orders under the Domestic Violence Legislation or Maintenance and Access to children are the types of situations that are dealt with by the District Court on a day to day basis.
In this blog, I set out the types of family law applications that can be made in the District Court and the range of Orders that can be made by the Court.
One of the most common applications to the District Court is for a Protection order – when a party is in fear of, their partner or the other parent of their child and the protection of the Court is required. A Protection order enables a party who feels that their health and safety is at risk, and they are in fear of the other person to apply to the Court in an ex-parte application ( without notice to the other side) and after giving information to the Judge under Oath – why they should be given the protection of the Court. If the Court accepts their evidence then the party can get a Protection Order which prohibits the other person from using violence, threatening violence, molesting or putting the victim/partner/spouse in fear. This is a temporary Order and only lasts until the hearing of the main Court case where the party against whom it is sought has the right to put their case forward.
The long term applications that can be sought in the District Court are a Barring Order for a period of up to three years and a Safety Order for a period of up to five years.
The other most common order in the District Court relates to Maintenance – this is where a parent / spouse / partner can apply to the Court and seek a regular payment from the other parent / spouse or partner. The District Court only has the power to Order payments to a maximum of €150.00 per week per child and €500.00 per week in respect of a spouse. If you are seeking a payment above this, an application needs to be made to the Circuit Court. It is also possible as part of the Court Order to have your maintenance paid through the District Court Clerk’s office. If the maintenance is not paid, then it is open to the Maintenance Creditor to again apply to the Court for a variety of reliefs.
The District Court is a Court of first jurisdiction and the work of the District Court especially in family law matters is of most importance to the general public.
Donal T.Ryan, Solicitors Cashel and Cahir, represent clients in all Courts. Aidan Leahy and Máire McMahon are experienced District Court practitioners in all aspects of Court work. Contact us at 062 61288 or 052 7441244 or www.dtryan.ie