On our recent legal slot, Talk to Tallans on Late Lunch with Gerry Kelly on LMFM, we were asked a question about guardianship. Deirdre Moran, our partner and family law specialist, was asked what was the difference between guardianship and custody. The Dad, said the caller, got guardianship in this instance.
We thought we’d write a brief article about guardianship as we often get asked what exactly is guardianship.
What is Parental Guardianship?
The short answer is that guardianship is about the legal relationship between a parent and a child. It describes the legal rights and responsibilities automatically vested with the parents.
The mother is automatically the guardian of the child under Irish law. The father, if married to the mother, also automatically becomes guardian of the child.
Where Issues Arise
A father who is not married to the mother does not get automatic guardianship. If the father of the child is not married to the mother of the child, he can become a guardian if he and the mother both sign sign a declaration, witnessed by commissioner of oaths or peace commissioner.
If the mother does not agree to signing the declaration, the father can apply to become a guardian under the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964 in the district court. Even if the mother objects to the application, the court will always look at what is in the best interest of the child.
If the father becomes a guardian, then he must be consulted about the child’s medical, educational and religious welfare. As a guardian, you must be consulted if a child is taken out of the jurisdiction.
Guardianship is very important. You can’t apply for custody if you don’t have guardianship. It gives you the basic rights that a parent has. It’s very important. As a guardian, you must be consulted if a child is taken out of the jurisdiction.
If you are in doubt about your rights, please contact us in confidence.