Custody, Guardianship, Access

Custody means the right to the physical care and control of a minor child being a child under the age of 18 years. Essentially, who the child will live with.

When the court is making its decision about who should have custody of the child, the most important factor for it is the welfare of the child. Welfare includes the child’s religious, moral, intellectual, physical and social welfare.

When parents are unmarried the mother automatically has sole custody of the child.

Guardianship is the duty to maintain and properly care for a child and to have a right to make decisions about a child’s welfare. It is the legal relationship a parent has with a child.

Under Irish law, married couples are automatically both joint guardians and joint custodians of their children. This does not change when they separate and, in most cases, when they divorce. However, a Court will decide with whom the child will live and will determine access arrangements for the other parent.

Access refers to the time that a child or children spend with the parent who does not have the day to day care and control of the child and with whom the child does not primarily reside.

Guardianship, Custody and Access under the law are viewed as rights of the child and where a parent brings an Application to Court in respect of these matters the best interests of the child will be paramount in the Court’s decision.

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