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Some background information for article: What About Childrens and Fathers Rights when Legislating for Same Sex Marriage?
Source of Information: Treoir, National Information Services for Unmarried Parents
The rights you already have in respect of your child do not change on the marriage of the mother. There is no legal relationship established between your child and her/his step-father due to the marriage.
If the mother and her husband (or any other applicants) apply to adopt your child the law requires that, if possible, you are consulted before any adoption order is made in respect of your child, even if you are not a joint guardian of your child.
If you have joint guardianship rights in respect of your child then your consent is required before an adoption order can be made.
If your child is adopted by the mother and her husband all rights and responsibilities are vested in the new family unit. You no longer have any possibility of acquiring rights in respect of your child. The child’s mother becomes the adoptive mother and her husband becomes the adoptive father and this legally excludes you permanently from your child’s life. It is possible to agree informal access arrangements between parents but these are not legally enforceable.
None. Unmarried fathers do not have any automatic legal rights in respect of their children.
None. Having your name entered in the Register of Births does not in itself give you any legal rights in respect of your child. The father’s name being entered in the Register of Births simply establishes the paternity of the child. Joint guardianship* rights can be acquired if your child’s mother agrees and you both sign the statutory declaration for joint guardianship. If the mother does not agree you can apply to the local district court for joint guardianship rights.
Joint Guardianship, access, joint/full custody, declaration of parentage. The court can also order you to pay maintenance in respect of your child.
If the mother is in agreement you can acquire joint guardianship rights in respect of your child through both of you signing a statutory declaration in the presence of a peace commissioner, commissioner for oaths or notary public. This declaration requires that you have entered into arrangements regarding the custody of and/or access to the child. These joint guardianship rights can only be removed by the court.
Parents can make informal arrangements regarding access and maintenance but these arrangements are not subject to legal enforcement. Written agreements between parents can be made rules of court by applying to the local district court. A rule of court has the same standing as a court order.
You automatically become a joint guardian of your child with the mother. You do not need to adopt your own child as it is from the marriage that your joint guardianship rights flow.
Thursday, December 10, 2009 – 11:12 AM
A sperm donor today won a landmark court battle to get access to his son who is being raised by a lesbian couple.
The Supreme Court ruled that, while the man was not entitled to guardianship, he has natural rights over the three-year-old child.
Five judges unanimously found it was in the best interest of the boy’s welfare to remain in contact with his biological father.
The court previously heard that the man donated his sperm to the lesbian couple, who were his friends, so one of them could have a baby.
It was the couple’s preference that the child would have knowledge of his biological father while the donor – a 41-year-old gay man – would be like a “favourite uncle”.
But their friendship deteriorated and he started court action two years ago when the couple revealed they planned to move to Australia for a year with the boy.
The Supreme Court overturned an earlier High Court decision that the man was not entitled to access to the child.
In her judgment, Ms Justice Susan Denham found that the sperm donor has rights as a natural father and added that he had formed a bond with the child when he was born.
“There is benefit to a child, in general, to have the society of his father,” she said.
“I am satisfied that the learned High Court judge gave insufficient weight to this factor.
“The basic issue is the welfare of the child,” she added.
The judge urged the parties to agree to terms of access before the case is dealt with back in the High Court.
Ms Justice Denham also found the lesbian couple were not a family under the Constitution of Ireland and said their relationship may not be weighed as such in the balance against the father.
The Iona Institute, a pro-marriage and pro-religion organisation, welcomed the decision and said it respected the rights of both fathers and children.
Director David Quinn, said: “A biological father has a right to know and have access to his child, and a child has a right to know and have access to his or her biological father.
“It is clear the Government must now move to regulate the assisted human reproduction industry, and to do so in a way that is fully child-centred.
“The best way to do this is to enshrine in any such regulations the right of a child to be raised by their mother and father.
“Anything else fails children, and puts the wishes of adults ahead of the rights of children.”
Campaign group Noise warned that the ruling effectively meant same-sex couples raising children have no recourse to legal protection.
“Our Constitution defines family as being based in marriage. It does not identify marriage as being solely between a man and a woman,” organiser Paul Kenny said.
“There is now a moral obligation on the Government to legislate as soon as possible for access to civil marriage for same-sex couples in order to allow them and their children to avail of all of the vital legal protections reserved for families.
“This is the only child-centred option.”