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On becoming an unmarried father you do not have guardianship, as a consequence you have no legal rights to your child.* It is essential for all unmarried fathers to realise this and more importantly go about getting guardianship. Guardianship means having the right and responsibility to be involved in making major decisions about the upbringing of a child, for example:

  • where the child lives, in Ireland or abroad
  • consent to medical treatment
  • passport applications
  • religion of the child
  • where the child goes to school
  • consent to adoption
Steps to obtaining Guardianship
A father who is not married to the child's mother can become a guardian by:

Step 1. Swearing an agreement with the mother. This is a Statutory Instrument, S.I. No. 5 of 1998, and is available here or from Government Publications, 01-6476834.
Watch a video HERE! on how to complete the form.

Step 2.Going to the local District Court to apply to be appointed a guardian. A father only needs to do this where the mother does not agree to the father becoming a guardian.

*It is important to note that even though a father may be on the child/rens birth certificate that this in no way grants or bestows guardianship on the father. Guardianship is a completely seperate process and must be applied for in its own right. The following link will show you how to go about registering a birth and how to apply for a birth certificate 
It is also important to note that even though you may not be a guardian to your child you can still apply to a court for legal access so as that your child can have contact with you (see part 11(4) of link).



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