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High Court, Northern Ireland

Volume 174: debated on Thursday 14 June 1990

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To ask the Attorney-General whether there is a separate family division at the High Court in Northern Ireland; how many judges at the High Court deal with the family problem of custody of children and access to children following separation or divorce; how many such applications await hearing in the High Court; and if he has any proposals to shorten the time required before such cases are heard in the High Court.

A separate family division of the High Court in Northern Ireland was created by the Judicature (Northern Ireland) Act 1978. The business of the family division is assigned to one of the judges of the High Court who is assisted by other judges of the Supreme Court as necessary. All 10 High Court judges hear petitions for divorce and judicial separation and deal with questions of custody of and access to children arising therefrom.There are two custody applications awaiting hearing and one access application listed for hearing in the week beginning 11 June 1990.

Waiting times are in general considered to be satisfactory and there are therefore no proposals to shorten the time required before custody cases are heard by the court.