Thursday, 7 March 2013

Questions (178)

Finian McGrath

Question:

178. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if there is a legal requirement to have a legal person involved in a representation in a child custody case; and if so, if it is free for a long-term unemployed parent. [12091/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I understand that the Deputy's question relates to whether a parent involved in a custody dispute must be represented by a solicitor. I can confirm that there is no obligation on either parent to be represented by a solicitor. While there is no such obligation, a person may still wish to be represented in court. In this context I should point out that the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995 makes provision for the grant by the State of legal aid and advice to persons of modest means in civil cases who meet the requirements of the Act and Regulations. The scope of the Act is very broad and covers most areas of civil law, including matters related to the welfare of (including the custody of or access to) a child.

As the Deputy will know, the civil legal aid scheme is administer by the Legal Aid Board which is independent in the performance of its functions. The applicant must satisfy a means test and be found to be financially eligible under the provisions of the Act and Regulations. In the vast majority of cases, the applicant is liable for a contribution which is also determined under the provisions of the Act and Regulations.