The Law Society has warned of worsening delays in family law courts unless the government appoints more judges.

Solicitors practising in the family courts claim that their clients are waiting months for sensitive cases to be heard.

The chairperson of the Law Society's Family and Child law Committee at the Law Society Helen Coughlan told RTÉ's This Week programme that there would be further problems unless more resources were allocated to the family courts.

"A father may be going to court to get access to his child, a mother may be going to court looking for financial support for her children. Very often it can take upwards of a year for these cases to be heard in court. The ultimate loser in all of that are children."

She added: "These delays are affecting families and it means they cannot get on with their lives. Their lives are being put on hold.

"The system is failing them when they are at a very low point in their lives, and very often it is very vulnerable people who are accessing the court, and everyone should have a constitutional right to access justice, and this is not happening in the family courts at the moment.

"We need resources and facilities, and there is a shortage of judges.

"The district court deals with the vast majority of family law cases, but district court judges are dealing with many other cases too, and they are completely under resourced."

Ms Coughlan also called on the Government to progress legislation designed to create dedicated judges in dedicated family courts.

"The Family Court Bill, this was legislation that will provide for specialist family courts and specialist judges. That was introduced in 2020. We are now in 2022 and there has been no pre-legislative scrutiny of that draft legislation yet, so it is going to be years before special family law courts, with specialist judges, will be set up."

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In a statement the Courts Service said there are longer waiting times in some areas of family law, where matters are listed for a limited number of days each month.

"Over the past two years there have been many occasions where covid has resulted in judges, court staff, lawyers or parties being unavailable.

"This has resulted in backlogs arising in a number of areas. Precisely because these absences arise at little or no notice and are unevenly spread geographically, delays vary greatly from district to district."

The Department of Justice said a working group on Judicial Planning will report in the autumn following consideration of an independent review of judicial numbers which is being carried out by the OECD.

It added that drafting of a Family Court Bill is ongoing and it would be published "as soon as possible".