This is the area of family law that relates to the right of a parent, who does not reside with the child/children, to spend time with that child/children. It can be agreed informally between the parents or if necessary, a court order may be obtained with will regulate what time the children will spend with their parents. It can cover overnight, weekend and holiday access. We understand that involving children in court proceedings can be very difficult for parents and we strive to support you through every step of the family court process.
Access had originally been perceived by the courts as a parental right but more recently Judges are viewing Access as a child’s right. The primary consideration is whether or not the granting of an access order would be in the child’s best interests.
In some situations it may be possible for a parent to come to an informal arrangement whereby the non-resident parent may have access to his/her child on a regular basis without having to go to court. If this is not possible then an access application should be made to court.
In order for the unmarried father or mother to obtain access for a child an application can be made to the District Court Family law office. The District Court Family Law Office will issue a summons for access, the summons will have a court date into the future where the mother and father of the child will have to attend Court for the application to be heard.
You can appeal an access order of the District Court to the Circuit Family Law Court, the appeal must be lodged in the appeals office within 14 days of the date of the original District Court Order. The time within which to appeal can be extended on application to the District Family Law Court.
In addition, The Children’s Act, 1997 gives any person related to the child by blood, such as grandparents, or by adoption, the right to apply to the District Court for permission to apply for access. Any decision made by the court will be made in the best interests of the child and the court will consider the views of the child where possible given his/her age and understanding.
The court will also consider:
the applicant’s connection with the child
the wishes of the child’s guardians
the risk if any, of the application disrupting the child’s life to the extent that the child would be harmed by the access
whether or not an access order is necessary.
The main consideration in relation to such applications is the welfare of the child.
If you are looking for advice on a family law matter, please contact: