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Guardianship is governed under the Guardianship of Infants Act, 1964 which has been amended by the Children and Family Relationships Act, 2015. If you are a Guardian of a child, this means that you are under a duty to properly care for the child and you can make decisions about their religion, health requirements and their general welfare.

Section 6(B) of the Guardianship of Infants Act, 1964, which has been amended by Section 49 of the Children and Family Relationships Act, 2015 sets out the criteria for someone to be Guardian.

Automatic Guardianship; The mother of a child has automatic guardianship. A man who is the father of a child and who is married to the mother also has automatic guardianship.

Unmarried Father; An unmarried father does not have automatic guardianship, even if the father’s name is on the birth certificate. An unmarried father may have automatic guardianship of a child if they have been living with the mother of the child for 12 months, which must include 3 months post birth of the child. Otherwise, an unmarried father can make an application to the Court to be appointed as a Guardian. An unmarried father may also be appointed as guardian by way of a signed agreement, also referred to as a Statutory Declaration which must be signed by both parties and witnessed by either a Notary Public, Peace Commissioner or Commissioner for Oaths.

Section 6(C) of the 1964 Act, as amended by Section 49 of the 2015 Act allows for the Court to appoint individuals other than the parents as guardian of the child.  The below criteria, must be met in order for such a person to make this application to the Court:

  1. The Applicant is over 18 years of age
  2. The Applicant is married to or in a civil partnership with or has been for over 3 years a cohabitant of the parent of the child and has shared the parental responsibility for the child’s day to day care for more than 2 years.
  3. On the date of the application, the Applicant has provided for the child’s day to day care for a continuous period of more than 12 months and that the child has no parent or guardian willing or able to act as guardian in respect of the child.

If you would like more information on guardianship, or would like to better understand your rights, please contact Powderly Solicitors on 01-6284333 or contactus@powderlysolicitors.ie.


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