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Guardianship of Infants Act, 1964 (Ireland) Essay Sample 

The Guardianship of Infants Act, 1964 is a principal piece of legislation governing the issues of access, custody and guardianship of children in Ireland. In this following sample, we will discuss the various aspects of guardianship of children under the Guardianship of Infants Act, 1964.

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Any guardian of a child can apply to any court to seek an order in concern of these issues. The court will be guided by what is the best interests of the child. Unmarried fathers can also apply to the court for the custody of the child.

Any application to the court in respect of Guardianship, access or custody will be considered after having looked at the best interests of the child. The childcare and welfare of children are also dealt in many acts like those of the Child Care Act 1991, The Children’s First Act, and Child and Family Act 2014 etc.

The welfare of the children can be seen in the following ways:-

  • The moral welfare (conduct of the parents is relevant only insofar as it affects the welfare of the child).
  • Religious welfare.
  • Intellectual welfare (includes the educational needs of the child).
  • Physical welfare.
  • Social (capability of social skills of a child helps in establishing good social relationships).
  • Emotional welfare.
  • Capacity and eligibility of the parents to take care of the child which (includes the parent-child relationship).
  • Wishes of the child but this will depend on the age and the level of understanding of the child and a court is under no obligation to agree to the demands of a child in this respect.
  • Keeping siblings together.
  • Keeping siblings with the marital father where the mother is deceased.

Where there is a conflict between the welfare of the child and other considerations, the welfare of the child takes precedence.

Guardianship of Children under the Guardianship of Infants Act, 1964 (Ireland) 

The natural mother is the automatic guardian of the child under Irish law. The father can become the guardian and can exercise his guardian rights only if he is married to the mother of the child. It could be either at the birth of the child or becomes a guardian on subsequent marriage after the child’s birth.

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However, the natural father of the child, who is not married to the mother at birth of the child can apply for the guardianship of a child under this Act. The unmarried father has a right to become a guardian but not automatically. If someone is the guardian of a child in Ireland then he or she has the duty to maintain and properly care for the child. He has the rights to make decisions about the child’s religious and secular education, health regulations and general welfare. The rights of the parent’s guardianship are set down in section 6 of The Guardianship of Infants Act, 1964.

On 18th January 2016 certain provisions of the Children and Family Relationships Act, 2015 came into effect that made a number of damages to The Guardianship Infants Act, 1964.

Methods of getting guardianship by parents or guardians under The Guardianship of Infants Act, 1964 (Ireland) 

There are various modes of getting the guardianship rights of children or infants by parents or guardians under this Act and they are:-

Automatic Guardianship 

If a child is born outside of the marriage, the mother is the automatic guardian of the child. The position of the unmarried father of the child is not certain. An unmarried father will become automatically a guardian if he has lived with the child’s mother for 12 consecutive months after 18th January 2016, including at least 3 months with the mother and child following the child’s birth. If there is a disagreement as to whether they’ve been cohabiting for the required length of time, an application for the necessary declaration can be made through the court.

If the parents of a child marry each other after the birth, then the father automatically becomes the joint guardian of the child (provided that the father’s name is on the birth certificate). Therefore, no need to apply for guardianship rights or adoption of a child by the father.

Guardianship by agreement

If the mother agrees, the father can become a joint guardian if both the parents sign a statutory declaration. Such a declaration signed in the presence of Notary Public, Peace Commissioner or a Commissioner for Oaths or a registrar of civil registration services.

The declaration states the names of the parents of the child that they are unmarried and they agree to appoint the father as a joint guardian of the child. If there is more than one child then a separate state declaration should be made for each.

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Guardianship through Courts

  • Unmarried fathers

If the mother does not agree to sign the statutory declaration or agree that the father can be appointed as a joint guardian, the father must apply to the court for joint guardianship. He can apply in the District court directly. The mother’s views are taken into account the fact that she does not consent to the guardianship. The court will seek the best interests of the child. Where the father is appointed as the joint guardian of the child then his consent will be required for certain things relating to the child’s welfare. Father’s consent is also required for the adoption of a child by another couple.

  • Legal guardianship application after changes in relationship status of parents 

Where a parent is the joint guardian and subsequently marries the mother of the child and enters into a civil partnership or becomes a qualified cohabitant, the other guardian will remain the joint guardian of the child.

It is possible for the new spouse or partner cohabiting to apply to the court to become a guardian without adopting the child.

The spouse or partner must have either:

  • Shared the parental responsibility for the day to day care of the child with the parent they live with for at least 2 years. Or,
  • Provided the child’s day to daycare for at least 1 year where the child has no parent or guardian willing or able to exercise their guardianship rights.

The application must be notified to all other parents of the child although the decision will not affect that parents or guardians rights in relation to the child. If a guardian is granted, the new guardian rights will be set out in the court’s order and may not be as extensive as the rights of the other guardians.

Alternatively, the parents and their new cohabitant partner qualified may wish to adopt the child. To do so, they must seek consent from the child’s other guardian. If the child’s other guardian consents to the adoption, then he or she gives up the right to guardianship and parentage of the child.

  • Temporary Guardianship 

It can be granted by the District Court to allow another adult to care for your child if you become seriously ill or hospitalised. Such a nominated person must be above 18 years of age. The nominated person must then apply to the court if you cannot carry out parental role due to serious illness.

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If the court appoints a guardian to a child where both the parents are alive the guardian will not generally have the right to make certain major decisions about the child. Unless the right is expressly granted by the courts.

Custody of Child Under The Guardianship Infants Act, 1964 (Ireland) 

It is the right of the parent to exercise daily care and control of the child. The married parents are automatically the joint guardians and custodians of the child. An unmarried mother is the natural custodian of the child but an unmarried father has to apply under section 11(4) of Guardianship Infants Act, 1964.

The Children Act 1997 makes provision for the father and mother to be appointed as joint custodians. One parent could be the sole custodian and the other parent will have access to the child. When married parents separate and sole custody is awarded to one parent, this does not mean that the non-custodial parent is deprived of other rights. The non-custodial parent must be consulted in relation to all aspects of the child’s welfare.

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The above essay sample is written with the purpose of guiding and giving an overview of guardianship and custodian laws in Ireland. It targets the Law, Childcare and development students who have to write assignments on such topics. Many Law students find it difficult to research and write papers or assignments on such difficult topics. In order to facilitate their writing abilities or getting their assignments done by some experts, they could hire professional legal essay writers.

The Guardianship of Infants Act, 1964 could also be read in reference with other Acts like Child care Act 1991, Children’s First Act 2015, Domestic Violence Act, 1996 etc.. This can also help the students in writing child protection guidelines essay, safeguarding child essay and any other topics on child welfare and protection. Our essay writing service of assignment help Ireland could help students in completing such assignments in their respective colleges before the deadline.

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