Unmarried And Separated Parents of Ireland
A support group for parents in relationship difficulties
Know Your Rights

Unmarried Fathers:

What rights do Unmarried Fathers have in respect to his child/children in Ireland?

NONE! Even if his name is on the birth certificate, it gives him no legal rights, it simply establishes Paternity (subject to a DNA Test) if required. 


Under the 1997 Children’s Act, any person related to the child by blood or adoption, for instance, Grandparents, may apply to the court for leave to apply for access to a child.

This is also the case for any person who has acted in loco parentis (in place of a parent) to a child.

Before making a decision, the court will consider the following.

  1. The Applicant’s connection to the child.
  2. The risk, if any, of the application disrupting the child’s life to the extent that the child would be harmed by it.
  3. The wishes of the child’s guardian(s)

    When appointed Guardianship, you are responsible for the

  •     Moral
  •     Physical
  •     Religious
  •     Educational
  •     Emotional 

   welfare of your child/children 


Custody is the day to day care and control of a child.

Unless otherwise ordered by the court the parents of a child are joint legal custodians of the child with equal rights, powers and duties.

Where the parents of a child have never cohabited after the birth of the child, the parent with whom the child resides is the sole legal custodian of the child.

The parents of a child may enter into an agreement that may:

  • vary their status as joint legal custodians of the child;
  • specify the rights, powers and duties of each parent with respect to the child;
  • provide for access to the child by either parent or any other person;
  • authorize one of the parents to appoint, by written instrument, one or more other persons as legal custodian of the child and guardian of the property of the child for:
    • any time specified in the instrument during the child’s minority; or
    • the duration of the child’s minority;
  • provide for the custody of the child and guardianship of the property of the child after the death of either parent.


Where the parents of a child are not living together, it may be possible to come to an informal arrangement so as the non-resident parent may have access to his/her child/ren on a regular basis without having to, go to court. This is regardless of marital status.

Where an arrangement cannot be reached, an application may be made to the court for an access order. If the court decides that access by the non-resident parent is in the Child’s best interests, the court may set the time, place and duration of access.

Access may be applied for whether or not the fathers name is on the Birth Certificate or whether or not he is a joint guardian and even where an application for guardianship has been turned down. 


Separated or divorced parents are responsible for the maintenance of their children.

Depending on the terms of the separation or divorce, they may also have maintenance responsibilities in respect of each other.

Maintenance payments in respect of the spouse may be liable for tax. Payments are only taxed once; Contact your tax office or advisor.

Unmarried parents are both responsible for the maintenance of their children, but have no financial responsibility to each other. 
WelcomeMission StatementAnnouncementsInformationDownloadsFeedbackContact UsSite Map