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15pc of domestic violence orders 'are brought by parents against adult children'


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Parents seeking court orders against adult children due to domestic violence have become a significant feature of family law cases, new research indicates.

Almost a sixth of domestic violence cases observed as part of the research involved parents seeking protection from an adult child.

In some cases where physical assaults took place, gardaí recommended the victims make an application to the court.

Under domestic violence legislation, a range of orders can be sought. These include safety orders, prohibiting further acts or threats of violence, and barring orders, which require the violent person to leave the home.

The research paper found that in 40pc of the parent application cases, the adult child had a diagnosed mental illness or behavioural issues.

In one case where an interim barring order was granted against a 20-year-old man with serious psychological problems, the father said his son repeatedly issued death threats to both parents and his siblings.

"He said the TV was talking to him, so he smashed it," the father said.

The authors, Dr Sinéad Conneely, a senior law lecturer at Waterford Institute of Technology, and mediators Dr Roisin O'Shea and Shane Dempsey, found there were no support services indicated for parents in such cases.

Their paper, published in the 'Irish Journal of Family Law', drew on 360 private family law cases heard at Dolphin House in Dublin and district courts in the south east since 2017.

Domestic violence was an issue in a quarter of the family law matters observed, while 15pc of cases involving domestic violence related to parents seeking protection from an adult child.

The paper described such parents as "the most marginalised and vulnerable group at the family court".

It said they spoke of their reluctance to be in court and had no support services to which they could turn.

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"There were long-standing patterns of abuse, with most cases involving drug, alcohol and/or mental health issues, and the parents spoke of their despair at being left with no choice but to make their child homeless. The present housing crisis compounds their dilemma," the report said.

"These difficult situations require a multi-agency response. These were among the most stark examples of cases in court as a result of failures elsewhere in the system such as addiction, mental health, behavioural issues and brain injuries."

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