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This article outlines the current position in Ireland in relation to guardianship of children. Establishing guardianship is important as it provides legal authority to make major parenting decisions in respect of a child in Ireland and it is also significant in determining who has rights of custody in cases of international child abduction. The article highlights that non-marital fathers are not entitled to automatic guardianship of their children and it outlines the limited mechanisms available to non-marital fathers to secure guardianship. In particular the article focuses on the practical difficulties that exist in relation to agreeing guardianship by way of statutory declaration. One very significant issue is that there is no central register in Ireland in which these documents, which confer very extensive and significant rights on a person, can be lodged. The article outlines recent recommendations for reform of the law in this area which would remove some of the current concerns that exist in respect of these statutory declarations agreeing guardianship. It also suggests some practical steps that could be taken to safeguard existing documents while awaiting law reform in this area.
By Dr Claire Murray, University College Cork
This article appeared appears in the November 2012 issue of International Family Law.
The Red Book is the acknowledged authority on practice and procedure