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Status of Children Act, 1987 (Ireland) Essay Sample

This sample is highlighting upon the Status of Children Act 1987 which has made not only a significant change in the family but has also reflected the modern family life in Ireland. This Status of Children Act 1987 provides a pathway to parentage which has been achieved through the legal recognition of the changing family landscape in Ireland where diversity is more common.

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This Act states the legal position of the child and his status of rights when born out of cohabitation and not through a marital relationship in a family. It is vital for children to be ensured of providing, caring and supporting of their rights and responsibilities. Until the enactment of the Status of Children Act, 1987 children born to unmarried parents were considered illegitimate. This Act abolished the concept of illegitimacy and in just 25 years, a change occurred in Irish society.

Even in the Irish Constitution, it envisages the family as one based on marriage. However, it has been held that non-marital children have the same ‘natural and imprescriptible rights’ as marital children under Article 42 of the Irish Constitution.

Unlike the rights of the family under Article 41 of the Irish Constitution, the rights of the non-marital mother to the custody and care of her child can be transferred or lost if she abdicates her rights and duties to the child. The non-marital father has no such constitutional rights and has no natural rights to the custody of the child. Before this Act, a non-marital child was illegitimate and could not be legitimated even if parents married. Status of Children Act 1987 has provided such legitimacy to children.

Guardianship of Child under the Status of Children Act 1987 (Ireland) 

Prior to the Status of Children Act 1987, the guardian of a non-marital child was a natural mother. After passing this Act, the father can now apply to be a joint guardian with the natural mother under section 12. A father can also become a guardian under procedures provisions by Children Act 1997 provided the mother agrees. Or else a statutory declaration by both the parties is to be signed.

The non-marital father can apply to the court to become a guardian under section 6A of Guardianship of Infants Act 1964. Children Act 1997, either by statutory declaration or by both the parents agreeing to the appointment of father as a guardian. He can only be removed as a guardian by the order of the court.

Maintenance of Child under the Status of Children Act 1987

An unmarried man or woman has no legal entitlement to seek maintenance from the other party for him or herself. She can seek maintenance for the support of children (Family Law Maintenance of Spouses and Children Act 1976).

The Status of Children Act 1987 provides the maintenance order cannot be made against a person unless it is proved on the balance of probabilities that the person is the parent.

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The succession of a child under the Status of Children Act 1987

Children born outside of marriage have the same succession rights as marital children. This means that a child born outside marriage can bring legal proceedings challenging a parent’s will if she or he is disappointed and can claim a share of the parent’s estate where there is no will.

It is strongly advisable for a single mother to make a “will” nominating guardians in the event of her death. If she doesn’t have a “will” the child will have have no guardian.

The Status of Children Act 1987 also provides for declaration of parentage. These type of declarations are important in probate cases. The provisions for the registration of births are set out in section 49 of The Status of Children Act 1987.

The Domestic Violence Act, 1996 extended the protection of barring and give protection orders to cohabitees. An unmarried person does not enjoy the protection of the Family Home Protection Act 1976. Property disputes between an unmarried couple cannot be pursued in the family courts.

Cohabitation agreements and non-marital contracts are not recognized in Irish law as they seem as contrary to public policy. However, agreements regulating financial and property matters are enforceable as long as they’re not conditional on the parties performing marital duties.

How to obtain a declaration of parentage in Ireland 

Status of Children Act 1987 makes provision for declaration of parentage. This will involve the application to the Circuit Court that a person is his or her mother or father, even where the parent is dead.

This Act also provides for blood tests including DNA testing, where parentage is in dispute, to be carried out. The court can make this order of its own volition or a party to the legal proceedings can apply to the court for such order. These tests are not funded by the public health system nor the courts so the cost of the tests will have to be paid by one or both parties or whoever the court directs to bear the costs.

The relevant rule of the District court is Order 61. Proceedings to obtain a declaration of parentage are commenced with a Family Law Civil Bill issued in the Circuit Court.

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Presumption of Paternity

Status of Children Act 1987 also introduced a presumption of paternity. This means that it is presumed that the father of a married woman’s children is her husband. However, this presumption can be rebutted with the appropriate evidence.

Unmarried Parents 

In an unmarried parents situation, there is no prescription in law as to the father of the child, unless the man has been named on the birth certificate as the father. Fathers who acknowledge paternity can have their names added to the birth certificate. If a father is not named on the birth certificate then he may have to prove his paternity to the court if he wishes to apply for access, guardianship or custody. Status of Children Act 1987 amends the Births and Deaths Registration (Ireland) Act 1880 to allow insertion of natural father’s name on the child’s birth certificate.

However, if a child is born to a mother who is married, and the husband is not the father, the registration statutory declaration will be different as it will require a statement from the husband. That he is not the father or statement from the mother that she had been living apart from the husband for 10 months prior to the birth or a court order naming the father.

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The above sample is written for the students of Law and Childcare Development. This essay is based on the Status of Children Act 1987 which focuses on the legal status of children after their birth. This sample can also be read in the light of other Acts like The Childcare Act 1991, Children’s First Act 2015, the Children and Families Act 2014 etc.

If any student faces a problem in legal research or language they can avail to the professional help of writers. Assignments or essays based on childcare, government initiatives in child safety, and safeguarding of child can be some related topics of this sample. Our assignment help experts could help you in plagiarised free assignment writing before your college deadline.

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