Friday 24 November 2017

Getting facts right on fathers' rights

In the article 'Unmarried dads to be named on birth certs' (Irish Independent, December 21), Dearbhail McDonald confuses certain aspects of family law by stating that "married parents are entitled to shared custody of their child as joint guardians and the mother of a non-marital child is entitled to sole custody if the father has not been made a guardian".

This is incorrect for two reasons: First of all, married parents are entitled to shared custody unless they separate, after which mothers will invariably retain custody and fathers will be obliged to financially maintain the family while being allowed limited access or contact.

This was recently reflected in a High Court judgment where a father was restricted to seeing his children for a limited time with the judge ordering that: "The respondent (the father) should not have the option to look after the children when the applicant (the mother) is out of the jurisdiction for more than one day, or when she is away from the family home for more than one day, as this would give rise to undesirable and unpredictable negotiations leading to differences on an irregular but frequent basis."

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