Children and Family Relationship Bill 2013: Parental Uncertainty in Cases of Guardianship, Custody and Access

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[1.1] Introduction
In certain scenarios, where the law in Ireland fails to explicitly outline the rights of the parent, the judicial adjudication in relation to guardianship, custody and access is fundamental to ensuring that the well-being of the child remains secure. Although there is some sense of legal certainty in respect of married parents and their children, this is not consistent with the situation that non-marital parents sometimes face due to the outdated legislation of the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964(1964 Act) as amended. This uncertainty has been a catalyst for the drafting of the Children and Family Relationship Bill 2013 (2013 Bill). The 2013 Bill aims to establish a legal framework which can support the many divergent family dynamics which are present in twenty first century Ireland. It is hoped that such a framework will provide legal pellucidity in regards to the rights and duties of parents within a non-traditional family model.
This submission will outline the law in Ireland today, while simultaneous highlighting the flaws and issues that are present within our legal framework in relation to parental uncertainty in cases of guardianship, custody and access. The 2013 Bill and its implications will also be addressed, accompanied by a critique of the relevant sections.
[1.2] Analysis
Although the 1964 Act provides guidance and clarity in some circumstances, it fails to provide a definition of the precise nature or range of responsibilities that arise from being a guardian. However, the courts have accepted guardianship to mean the rights and duties of parents in relation to the raising of their child. More notably, this piece of legislation is also quite restrictive on who can achieve automatic guar...

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...ide a more stable and fitting “contemporary legal architecture” on guardianship, custody, access and the upbringing of children in diverse family forms. Although the proposed laws may not be welcomed by all, they are arguably a necessity to ensure that the Irish legislation is providing a legal framework that is in step with the reality of the diverse and evolving family structures that we see today.

[1.6] Bibliography
 Adoption Act 2010
 Guardian of Infants Act 1964
 Health Act 2004
 Protection of Children (Hague Convention) Act 2000
 Children Act 1997
 Human Rights Act 1998.
 Family Law (Divorce) Act 1996
 Family Law Act 1995
 Child Care Act 1991
 Judicial Separation and Family Law Reform Act 1989
 Status of Children Act 1987
 Courts (No. 2) Act 1986
 Age of Majority Act 1985
 Courts Act 1981
 Health Act 1970
 Succession Act 1965

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