|More rights for single fathers under Family Bill|
Unmarried fathers can automatically become guardians of their children for the first time under wide-ranging new measures set to be approved by cabinet next week.
|UTV Ireland has seen details of the Child and Family relationships bill that also deals with parentage in the case of assisted reproduction.|
Those waiting years for change say the Bill goes some way to addressing the needs of the modern Irish family.
Among the proposals are new guardianship rights for unmarried fathers.
It means that a father who has lived with the child’s mother for 12 consecutive months will automatically become a guardian.
That time period must include three months following the child’s birth.
The bill also looks at parentage in the case of Assisted Reproduction or AHR – where, for example, a donor may be involved.
The law will allow a birth mother's partner to become the child's second parent if he or she consented to the AHR treatment, it was carried out in a clinical setting, and the donor consented to be a donor, not a parent.
A child conceived in this way will also be allowed trace his or her genetic identity under the proposed law.
Elaine Callan, a solicitor who specialises in family law says the bill is putting into legal framework what is already happening in court.
“I think the area has developed a lot over the last number of years and the purpose of the bill seems to be to gather together some of the things that have been developing in the courts and to place them in a piece of legislation that makes it more clear to understand.
“Lots of areas such as the voice of the child and children’s voices being heard in the court seem to be being addressed under this and that is a very welcome development, but it has been happening in certain areas of family law anyway so it is just putting that into legislation,” she said.
She explained that the bill is needed to deal with the changing nature of Irish families.
“There are so many co-habiting couples, couples where there has been separations, second families. There is definitely a need to try and bring the legislation up to date to reflect Irish society today,” she said.
Ms Callan added that the rights of unmarried fathers in the bill is still very limited.
“Before now unmarried fathers have to apply for guardianship unless the mother gifts that to the father or does it by consent, and under this legislation fathers will gain automatic guardianship in certain circumstances. But it is still limited and perhaps it could have gone further,” she said.
Commenting on the general positives of the bill, she said it will streamline a lot of applications which will in turn reduce costs, reduce the time spent in court and bring a lot of things together that have already been in practice.
“It seems to be more child-centric which the courts have been moving towards themselves so from that point of view it’s a good piece of legislation and it’s welcome,” she added.
The bill will be brought to cabinet for approval next Tuesday with hopes it will be signed into law by next month.
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