The laws concerning family law in this country struggle to deal with the different types of families that children, their parents, guardians and carers in 21st century Ireland belong to.
It is hoped that the Children and Family Relationship Bill 2014 will go a long way to modernising and recognising children and their families rights in different types of families.
Some of the proposals are set out below:-
The proposed new law intends to establish that the best interest of the child is the most important consideration when decisions are being made on custody, guardianship and access.
UNMARRIED FATHERS AND AUTOMATIC GUARDIANSHIP
The proposed new law intends to increase the number of unmarried fathers who are automatically guardians of their children. What is intended is that an unmarried father will be the automatic guardian of his child if he cohabits with the child’s mother for at least a year before the child’s birth and the cohabitation ends (if applicable) less than 10 months before the child’s birth.
ENFORCEMENT OF ACCESS
Right now if one parent denies the other access the only option available to Courts is sending the offending parent to prison. It is now proposed that in this situation there will be a range of options available to Courts such as giving the parent denied of access compensatory time to, in more severe cases fines and community service.
It is proposed that civil partners, step-parents, those co-habiting with the biological or adoptive parent and those acting in loco parentis for a specified period of time will be allowed to apply for guardianship of a child.
It is proposed to allow non commercial surrogacy arrangements but to prohibit people or agencies from advertising surrogacy services or from persuading women to act as surrogates.
ESTABLISHING PARENTAGE in assisted reproduction and surrogacy
It is proposed to set out how parentage is assigned in cases of assisted reproduction and surrogacy enabling men and women to apply for declarations of parentage where children have been born to them through the use of their own genetic material or otherwise.