In family law in Ireland, guardianship refers to the legal responsibility and authority of a parent or other person to make decisions on behalf of a child. Guardianship is a legal status that is awarded to one or both parents, and it gives them the power to make decisions about the child’s education, health, welfare and religion.
Guardianship is a separate legal status from custody, which refers to the physical care and control of a child. A person can have guardianship of a child without having custody of them, and vice versa. For example, a grandparent or other relative may have guardianship of a child, but the child may live with their parents.
The Guardianship of Infants Act, 1964, the Family Law (Divorce) Act, 1996 and the Children Act, 2001 are the main legislation that governs the issue of guardianship in Ireland. In January 2016 certain provisions of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 came into effect and made a number of changes to the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964.
These acts provide for the rights and responsibilities of guardians, and also set out the process for appointing a guardian.
The courts have the power to make orders for guardianship, and in making such an order the court’s primary concern is the welfare and best interests of the child. In general, the courts will try to ensure that both parents have guardianship of the child.
In the event of a separation or divorce, the court will decide on the issue of guardianship as part of the overall determination of the arrangements for the child. It is important to note that the right to guardianship does not automatically terminate upon the death of a parent or upon the remarriage of a parent. It is a long-term responsibility that continues until the child reaches the age of majority.
Guardianship is an important aspect of family law in Ireland, as it provides legal protection for the rights and welfare of children. It ensures that the child’s best interests are taken into account in all decisions made on their behalf, and it gives parents the authority to make important decisions about their child’s upbringing.
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