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14th Oct 2021

‘Tsunami of separation and divorce’ is happening in Ireland, and worst is yet to come

Trine Jensen-Burke

Ireland sees 'tsunami of separations and divorce'

The pandemic has taken its toll.

According to One Family, Ireland is facing more separations and divorce following the pandemic.

The organisation, which seeks to provide help and support to one-parent families across Ireland, says that more local support is needed for families, as the country is facing atsunami’ in breakups and family law and support services are simply not prepared.

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, the charity says there was a 20 percent increase in demand for its services for lone parent and separating families in 2020 – including a 17 percent rise in demand for ‘Parenting during Separation’ courses.

“We saw massive increases across all of our services… as people were locked in and really under pressure,” explains CEO of One Family, Karen Kiernan.

“We worked with well over 20 percent more people over the year; our counselling services were in massive demand. In fact, we have had to close our waiting list for the first time ever in our 49 years.”

She continues:

“Our helpline was in huge demand, particularly during all the lockdown periods, and our parenting service worked with many, many more people because people were so stressed”.

Families are going to need more support

Kiernan explains all this is expected to see a rise in breakups in the next 12 months.

“Any research that has been done is showing that – that there is a link to relationship breakdown and separation. And also to agreements that were in place breaking down, I suppose that’s a lot of what we were dealing with as well.”

She explains that her organisation is putting this out as a warning – to say there are families that are going to need parenting support, counselling, mediation.

“And they’re going to need it not just where we are, in Dublin, but they’re going to need it right around the country – and we have to be prepared for it. The courts are also struggling with backlogs and that needs to be addressed.”

Kiernan also explains that while reform is on the way, there needs to be a more regional approach.

“There is a reform of the whole family law justice process coming up, so we need to be really realistic and know that there are a lot of families in need who need help to sperate well for their children – and they need help to get good parenting plans in place.

“We’re calling for more regional and local services for separating families, we’re calling for staff to be supported around how to work with very complex families.

“And we’re looking for more supports for the courts, so that we can have the specialist family law courts that we need.

“And we need more supports for people outside of court to make up their own parenting plans”.