Denise Kirwan Speaks on Guardian ad litem Reforms at Cork Family Lawyers Association Lecture

Denise Kirwan, Partner at CKT, recently addressed the Cork Family Lawyers Association on the current reform proposals in family law and child care proceedings. The lecture, held at the Imperial Hotel focused on the Child Care (Amendment) Act 2022, with Denise discussing the intended new arrangements for the role of Guardian ad litem in child care proceedings.

With over 25 years of experience, Denise leads the Child Care Department at CKT. Her extensive expertise includes representing State bodies in highly sensitive matters, such as applications under the Child Care Act, the Inherent Jurisdiction of the High Court, and inter-jurisdictional applications under the Brussels II Regulations. Denise’s proficiency extends to adoption, juvenile justice, special care, and the High Court Wardship jurisdiction, marking her as a preeminent authority in her field.

As an active member of the Child and Family Law Committee at the Law Society of Ireland, Denise frequently speaks at various events and provides training for public bodies and health professionals. She is also a regular lecturer at University College Cork on the Masters in Social Work programme, where she shares her wealth of knowledge with future professionals in the field.

During her talk, Denise elaborated on the forthcoming changes to the Guardian ad litem system under the Child Care (Amendment) Act 2022. She outlined how these reforms aim to enhance the representation and protection of children’s interests in legal proceedings, ensuring that their voices are heard and considered in decisions that affect their lives.

The lecture also featured Eamon Carroll, who provided an overview of the constitutional obligation to legislate for the child’s voice in family law and child care proceedings. He highlighted current challenges, particularly in the family law area, and presented a review report on the role of expert reports published by the Department of Justice. Dr Conor O’Mahony of UCC former Special rapporteur on child protection to the Government of Ireland followed with a discussion on the ongoing reform process of the Child Care Act 1991, noting specific issues in the current proposals.

The event was a significant opportunity for legal professionals to gain insights into the evolving landscape of family law and child care proceedings, emphasising the critical importance of safeguarding children’s rights and interests within the legal system. Denise’s expertise and experience provided invaluable perspectives on these crucial reforms, reinforcing her reputation as a leading voice in child care law.