Abstract While family law is not a unique subject matter for research, it is however, a much neglected area. What sets this work apart, is the significant volume of cases observed and analysed in the Circuit Court, in all 8 Circuits. Information was extrapolated to definitively answer the questions, that to date have been informed by anecdotal conjecture. The effects of a deep recession during the court research period, October 2008 to February 2012, highlighted the serious failings of an opaque and costly system, with long delays and over-burdened lists, which resulted in particularly poor outcomes for children, male litigants and lay litigants.
While case reporting is not in itself an innovation, the development of a large database resource is. For the first time, comprehensive empirical data has been gathered, from 1,087 cases observed during the period of the research. This statistically significant sample size, gives confidence levels of between +/-3% and +/-0.6%, indicating that the findings are good indicators of what happended across all courts during the research period.
Judicial interviews were carried out, which assisted with the examination of the decision making of the court, on judicial separation and divorce. While it was expected that inconsistencies would be evident from court to court, what was unexpected, was the difficulty in identifying consistencies. Comparative international research carried out in New Zealand, Canada and America, indicated that hearing the views of the child is a priority for most courts. However, a finding in the Irish family courts is the absolute disconnect between the courts and children, who have no voice. This research unequivocally shows we are utterly failing the vulnerable members of our society, post the break-down of the `family’; particularly children, by refusing to hear their voices, or offer appropriate support, in matters that are central to their lives.
Continue reading the study at https://repository.wit.ie/2825/1/thesis_ROS_WITLIB_201405final.pdf