|Family Law Code of Practice
LawPlus comply with the Family Law Code of Practice [the Code] published by the Law Society of Ireland. This Code forms an integral part of the approach that LawPlus solicitors adopt to family law matters and is outlined below.
1. At an early stage, we explain to you the approach we adopt in family law work
2. We encourage you to see the advantages to the parties of a constructive and non-confrontational approach as a way of resolving differences. We advise, negotiate and conduct matters so as to help the parties settle their differences as quickly as possible and reach agreement, while allowing time to reflect, consider and come to terms with your new situation.
3. If there are contentious issues concerning children, we will advise you that the court will, by law, prioritise the best interests of the children. We make sure that you understand that the best interests of the children should be put first. We explain that where a child is involved, your attitude to your spouse will affect the family as a whole and the child’s relationship with his or her parents.
4. We encourage the attitude that the dispute is not a contest in which there is a winner and a loser, but rather that there is a search for fair solutions. We avoid using words or phrases that suggest or cause a dispute where there is no serious dispute. We stress the need for you to be open and honest in all aspects of the case and we explain what could happen if you are not honest and open.
5. Emotions are often intense in relationship disputes. We avoid inflaming them in any way. We take great care when considering the effect our correspondence could have on other parties and on you. Our letters are clear and free of jargon. Our correspondence aims to resolve issues and to settle the matter, not to further inflame emotions or antagonise.
6. We make sure that you know about other available services (such as mediation and counselling) which may bring about a settlement and may help you and any other parties involved. We explore with you the possibility of a reconciliation and, where appropriate, give every encouragement in that regard.
Relationship with the Client
7. We make sure that we are objective and do not allow our emotions or personal opinions to influence our advice.
8. When advising you we explain all options. We ensure that you understand the consequences of any decision you have to make. The decision has to be made by you; we cannot decide.
9. We make you aware of the legal costs at all stages and comply fully with our obligations under section 68 of the Solicitors (Amendment) Act, 1994. The benefits and merits of any steps taken are balanced against the costs.
Dealing with other Solicitors
10. In all dealings with other solicitors, we show courtesy and try to maintain a good working relationship.
11. We try to avoid criticising the other solicitors involved in a case.
Dealing with a person who does not have a solicitor
12. When we are dealing with someone who is not represented by a solicitor, we take even greater care to communicate clearly and try to avoid any technical language or jargon that is not easily understood.
13. We strongly recommend an unrepresented person to consult a solicitor and also advise that person that he or she may have an entitlement to Civil Legal Aid.
14. When taking any step in the proceedings, the long-term effect on you and other family members must be balanced with the likely short-term benefit to the case.
15. If the purpose of taking a particular step in proceedings may be misunderstood or appear hostile, we shall explain it, as soon as possible, to our colleague.
16. Before filing proceedings, we consider whether the other party or his or her solicitor should be contacted in advance with a view to coming to an agreement and minimising misunderstandings.
17. We discourage you from naming any third parties unless there are very good reasons for doing so.
18. We encourage you to put the child(ren)’s welfare and interests first.
19. We encourage you to co-operate with the other parent when making decisions concerning the child(ren), and advise parents it is often better to make arrangements for the child between themselves, through their solicitors or through a mediator rather than through a court hearing.
20. In any letters we write, we keep disputes about arrangements for the child(ren) separate from disputes about money. They are usually referred to in separate letters.
21. We must remember that the interests of the child(ren) may not reflect those of either parent. In special circumstances, in private law cases, it may be appropriate for the child(ren) to be represented by a guardian ad litem.
22. A guardian ad litem should have the expertise and knowledge derived from working in the field of child protection and child welfare.
23. Specially trained solicitors should provide legal representation for the child(ren), working with or without a guardian ad litem.
24. We only accept instruction from a child if we have the necessary training and expertise in this field.
25. We continually assess the child’s competence to give instructions
26. We make sure that the child has enough information to make informed decisions. We advise and give information in a clear and understandable manner and are aware that certain information may be harmful to the child.
27. Whether either party or their solicitor wishes to have a child medically examined or assessed for the purposes of producing evidence in court, the parties shall in the first instance seek the agreement of the other party to the proceedings so as to secure an agreed referral to a mutually acceptable expert. Solicitors for both sides should agree on the issues to be notified to the agreed expert and the areas where direction and advice is being sought from the expert. In default of agreement the matter should be referred to the court for its direction.
Conflict of Interest
28. Where we have acted for parties in non-contentious matters, and subsequently one or other of the parties return to us seeking advice, then we have a duty to ensure that the other party has no objection to the retainer and that, in the course of the work done for the parties, we have acquired no information which could lead to a possible conflict of interest.
29. It is inappropriate for us to represent both parties in any matrimonial/relationship dispute.