Guardianship is where you have the right to make decisions about the child’s religion, education, health requirements and general welfare. It does not mean you have the final say, but the right to discuss and have a say in the decisions that affect a child. If agreement cannot be reached between guardians then the Court can be asked to decide.
The awarding of Guardianship in Irish law has in the past favoured the mother of the child, but that is slowly changing.
Unmarried couples who live together will have automatic joint guardianship provided the couple live together for a consecutive 12 months and three months of these occurred following the birth of the child. However, fathers who do not live with the mother or fail the 12 month rule, can still be guardians if the mother agrees and both complete and sign a statutory declaration form. If no agreement can be reached the father can apply to the Court to be appointed a guardian.
Married couples have joint guardianship and that can only be changed by Court Order. It is very rare to succeed in an application to remove a guardian unless there is a risk to the child.
Where the Mother Declines Joint Guardianship
In this case, the fathers’ only recourse is to the Courts to decide on the issue. The Court will hear from the mother and father and will decide in the best interests of the child. The Court will take into consideration circumstances where the father has a relationship with the child, or wants to build a relationship.
Guardianship in Ireland is governed under different pieces of legislation, so it is vitally important to ask your solicitor for advice if dealing with guardianship issues.