On the 18 January 2016, Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD, signed The Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 (Commencement of Certain Provisions) Order 2016, which commences specified provisions of Parts 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 12 and 13 of The Children and Family Relationships Act 2015. This means that the commenced provisions have legal effect from 18 January 2016.

Key provisions include:

  • A non-marital father will automatically become the guardian of the child in certain circumstances.
  • A person other than a parent can become the child’s guardian in certain circumstances.
  • It is possible to appoint a person as a child’s guardian if that person has been responsible for the child’s day-to-day care for over a year.
  • It is possible for a parent to appoint a temporary guardian for his/her child if the parent is suffering from serious illness or injury.
  • A parent’s spouse, civil partner or cohabitant can apply for custody in certain circumstances.
  • A grandparent or other relative can apply to court for custody of a child in certain circumstances.
  • Relatives of a child, or those acting in loco parentis can apply to have access to children in certain circumstances.
  • The child’s best interests are the paramount consideration for the court in proceedings on guardianship, custody or access.
  • The court can impose “enforcement orders” where a parent or guardian has been denied custody or access.
  • A child co-parented by civil partners has the same protections as are enjoyed by a child of a family based on marriage.
  • A cohabiting partner has a maintenance responsibility where the cohabiting partner is a guardian of the child.