Thursday, 30 January 2014: For immediate release
Putting Children at the Centre of Family Law Reform
Children’s Rights Alliance welcomes the publication of the Children and Family Relationships Bill 2014
The Children’s Rights Alliance welcomes the publication of the Children and Family Relationships Bill 2014, which represents the biggest reform in family law in a generation. The Bill is a long overdue recognition that the make-up of families has entirely changed since we last revisited their status in primary legislation. Commenting on the draft Bill today, the Children’s Rights Alliance Chief Executive, Tanya Ward said:
“This looks to be a modern bill that reflects the modern family. For far too long, children in Ireland have been discriminated against because of the type of family into which they have been born. For example, children in non-marital families have suffered because of situations where a step parent, grandparent or other family member has had no legal relationship with the child.
The Bill provides a range of rights for different family types and will significantly reduce the number of cases going to court because of the current legal vacuum. It also puts children at the heart of family law reform and introduces a clear legal framework to respond to the everyday realities of family life”.
The Bill proposes the following critical reforms:
• The best interests of the child should be paramount or the only consideration when making a decision on guardianship, access or custody.
• The views of children should be considered when courts are deciding what is best for children.
• Stepparents, family members, grandparents and civil partners can apply for parental responsibility for a child.
• The right of access in relation to a child includes the right of the child to maintain personal relationships, and contact with a parent, relative or other person with a bona fide relationship with the child.
• Adoption rights are extended to civil partners.
• Parentage is assigned in situations where children are born through assisted reproduction and surrogacy.
The Children’s Rights Alliance will be studying the Bill very carefully to fully assess how children’s rights are protected. The Alliance also welcomes the fact that the draft Bill has been referred to the Ombudsman for Children for views.
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Children's Rights Alliance