Wednesday, 30 June 2010
Dáil Éireann Debate
221. Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Social Protection the situation, in the case of a woman who has a baby with a man who is not her husband, of the name of the father of the child vis-à-vis being recorded on the birth certificate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28543/10]
Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív): Under section 6A of the 1964 Act, as inserted by section 12 of the Status of Children Act 1987, a non-marital father may apply to the court to be appointed a guardian of his child. Alternatively, where there is agreement between the parents, they can make a statutory declaration under section 2(4) of the 1964 Act, as inserted by section 4 of the Children Act 1997, conferring on the father the status of guardian.
Under section 11 of the 1964 Act, a guardian may apply to the court for its direction on any question affecting the welfare of the child, including directions as to custody and access. In addition, the section provides that the unmarried father of a child, even if he is not a guardian, may apply to the court for orders on custody and access. Section 3 of the Act provides that, in deciding on an application relating to the custody, guardianship or upbringing of a child, the court shall regard the welfare of the child as the first and paramount consideration.
Where appropriate and practicable, the court will also take into account the child’s wishes in the matter having regard to the age and understanding of the child. In addition, the law now places an emphasis in terms of recognising the rights of the child to the society of both his or her father and mother: Section 11D of the 1964 Act (inserted by the Children Act 1997) obliges the court in proceedings relating to the welfare of a child to consider whether the child’s best interests would be served by maintaining personal relations and direct contact with both his or her father and mother on a regular basis.
These legislative provisions, contained in the Guardianship of Children Acts 1964 to 1997, are comprehensive. They permit the court in cases of disagreement to decide on arrangements for the child’s care and upbringing having regard to the child’s best interests.
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