Guardianship Forms for Unmarried fathers in Ireland 5th May 2010

Guardianship Of Children (Statutory Declaration) Regulations 1998

The Guardianship of Infants Act of 1964 which is recognised in Ireland as the definitive and seminal Act laying out the law with regard to the rights of fathers and their children in this country.
This act was subsequently amended in 1998 by The Guardianship Of Children (Statutory Declaration) Regulations 1998 to recognise the fact that an unmarried father, instead of having to apply to the courts could instead complete a statutory instrument together with his partner and once signed by a peace commissioner or solicitor could be appointed as a Guaradian of his children without the intervention of a court.

What is Guardianship

Guardianship is the collection of rights and duties which a parent has in respect of his or her child. It encompasses the duty to maintain and properly care for the child and the right to make decisions about a child’s religious and secular education, health requirements and other matters affecting the welfare of the child.

The exercise of guardianship rights may be agreed between parents. In the event of a dispute arising concerning the exercise of guardianship rights the court may determine the matter on the application of either parental guardian. The right to custody is one of the rights that arises under the guardianship relationship.

Custody is the physical day to day care and control of a child. Even where one parental guardian has custody of a child the other parental guardian is generally entitled to be consulted in relation to matters affecting the welfare of the child


Know your rights

As an unmarried father, you have no automatic guardianship rights regarding your child/ren. We believe that children have a right to be cared for by both parents but you will have to take affirmative action to ensure your child’s right to a father and your right to be a father.
Children born to unmarried parents have no automatic right to their fathers name on the birth certificate (as children born to married parents have), nor do they have the automatic right to the care and protection of their father even when he wishes to provide it.

In 1998 the Irish Government introduced a piece of legislation that allowed unmarried fathers to make a statutory declaration and become guardians of their child/ren. Prior to this Statutory Instrument a father had to go before a Judge and seek his/her permission to become a guardian of his child/ren. With the introduction of this Statutory Instrument it is a joint declaration i.e the mother and father sign the document appointing the father as a guardian, however if the mother refuse to agree to this then the father has to revert back to the old way of becoming a guardian and must go to court to seek guardianship.

What to do with my Statutory Instrument SI 5

You may not be aware but there is no responsible state agency
anywhere in the country for the collection of Statutory
Instrument SI-5.
• Almost 1/3rd of children born in 2011 are born to parents
who are unmarried (this figure rises dramatically to 50% in some
housing estates around the country),
• This means that these children are ‘legal strangers’ to their
fathers unless these parents register the father as a guardian.
• There is no one responsible for collecting this SI 5, so for
example if the document gets lost or mislaid then there is no
proof that such a document ever existed.
• Parental Equality would like to start a campaign to make fathers and
mothers aware of the importance of:-
1) Filling out such an application i.e SI No. 5 1998 and
2) sending it to a central repository or agency who will hold the document
for safe keeping or at the very least that your solicitor or the peace
commissioner hold on to a copy of this document.

This latter suggestion is a project which we are currently and actively
engaged in both the development and establishment of such an agency
pending core funding.

Guardianship Forms for Unmarried fathers in Ireland 5th May 2010

Child Custody and what it means

To have custody of a child means to have the day to day care and control of a child. Married parents have automatic joint custody of their children. Technically when parents separate they continue to enjoy the right to joint custody unless a court orders otherwise. Unmarried mothers have automatic sole custody whereas unmarried fathers have no automatic custody rights and may apply to the court to be appointed a joint custodian.

What does access mean

 Access is the right of the child/ren to spend time with both parents for a child/ren to have access to their Father in the case of a separation, the Father needs either the mothers permission or a court order outlining the access. It is important to have this in writing to avoid any confusion. An unmarried father can make an application to the District or the Circuit  Court, at anytime, for an access order or to alter any existing order if there is a change of circumstances.