Guardianship, Contact and Care
A child’s guardian must administer and safeguard the child’s property and property interests, assist or represent the child in administrative, contractual and other legal matters, or give or refuse any consent required by law in respect of the child, including consent to the child’s marriage, adoption, departure or removal from the Republic, application for a passport and the alienation or encumbrance of any immovable property of the child.
Care of a child means providing a child with a suitable place to live, living conditions that are conducive to the child’s health, well-being and development and the necessary financial support, within the available means of the parent or carer-giver. It also means safeguarding and promoting the well-being of the child; protecting the child from maltreatment, abuse, neglect, degradation, discrimination, exploitation and any other physical, emotional or moral harm or hazards. A child’s care-giver is also required to guide, direct and secure the child’s education and upbringing, including religious and cultural, in a manner appropriate to the child’s age, maturity and stage of development. A care-giver is also required to maintain a sound relationship with the child, accommodate any special needs that the child may have, and generally, ensure that the best interests of the child are the paramount concern in all matters affecting the child.
Having contact with a child means maintaining a personal relationship with the child. If the child lives with someone else, then it means having communication on a regular basis with the child in person, including visiting the child; or being visited by the child; or communication on a regular basis with the child in any other manner, including through the post; or by telephone or any other form of electronic communication.
The term primary residence is not defined in legislation; however, this is the term most commonly used by the Family Advocate and the Court to describe the home of the parent or other care-giver with whom the child will primarily live, in other words, which home will be the child’s main place of residence. This parent is often referred to as the “resident parent”. The non-resident parent then has a right to maintain contact with the child, which generally includes physical contact whereby the child spends a number of days with that parent, including over-night and telephone or Skype contact.
What are your rights to care and contact?
There is no fixed “rule” regarding the care of and contact with children. Care and contact are awarded based on a number of factors, which will depend entirely on the specific circumstances of your matter. There has been a marked increase in the number of children who have what is referred to as “shared residence”, whereby the children spend equal amounts of time with each parent on a rotational basis. This is however, dependant on the age, maturity and gender of the children and the proximity of each parent’s home to each other.
How can we help?
If you and the other parent of your child are experiencing difficulties exercising care of, and/or contact with your child, we can assist you by entering into discussions with the other party in an attempt to resolve the issues or by referring you to mediation with a properly trained and experienced mediator. Whilst we will do our utmost to attempt to resolve issues without recourse to the court, should this not be successful, we are experienced in all forms of litigation in this regard and have a number of experts at our disposal to assist us should this becomes necessary.
For direct answers to your specific personal questions, please contact us directly.