If you are a guardian of a child, you have certain rights and duties. Guardians have the duty to properly take care of their child but also have the right to make decisions on behalf of that child regarding health, welfare education etc.
Married parents of a child are “joint-guardians” and have equal rights in relation to the child.
For children born outside of marriage in Ireland, only the mother has automatic rights to guardianship. (Even though a father’s name may be registered on the child’s birth certificate, this does not give him any guardianship rights in respect of his child).
Custody concerns the primary residence and day-to-day care of a child. Where the parents of a child are married they are entitled to joint custody of the child but one parent can be given sole custody by way of agreement or court order. Where the parents are not married the mother is the sole guardian but the father can be given joint custody by way of agreement or court order.
The parent who does not obtain custody of a child is entitled to apply for access to the child. Access is the right to see and communicate with a child. Once an access order is obtained from the court then any failure or refusal by the custodial parent to comply with the order is deemed to be in contempt of court and can result in a term of imprisonment and/or fine.
The most important consideration in custody, access and guardianship matters is the welfare of the child. Welfare comprises the religious, moral, intellectual, physical and social welfare of the child. Custody, access or guardianship disputes can be the sole basis of an application to court and these applications can be made to the District Court, Circuit Court or High Court.
If you require representation in a custody access or guardianship matter or if you have a general family law query; contact us to arrange a consultation.