Parts of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 have come into law from 18th January, 2016.
These deal with
Guardianship and Unmarried Fathers
Unmarried fathers will automatically become guardians of their children if they meet a cohabitation requirement.
An unmarried father who cohabits for 12 months with the child’s mother, including 3 months following a child’s birth, will automatically become the child’s guardian.
This provision is not retrospective, so guardianship will only be acquired automatically where the parents live together for at least 12 months after 18 January 2016.
-A person other than a parent may become the child’s guardian, if married to or in a civil partnership with the child’s parent or if s/he has cohabited with the child’s parent for over 3 years and if the person has shared responsibility for child’s day-to-day care for more than 2 years.
It will also be possible for the court 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 and if no parent or guardian is willing to assume the responsibilities of guardianship.
The powers of court-appointed guardians will generally be limited to decisions on day-to-day matters. The decisions reserved to full guardians are decisions on the child’s place of residence, his / her religious, spiritual and cultural upbringing and on medical matters, placement for or consent to adoption of a child and on the issue of a passport for a child.
It will be possible for a guardian parent to nominate a temporary guardian for his / her child through a court-based process if the parent is suffering from serious illness or injury which would prevent him or her from exercising his or her guardianship responsibilities. The court will appoint the temporary guardian and will have the power to limit that person’s responsibilities, taking account of any limitations imposed by the parent.
-A parent’s spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of not less than 3 years will be able to apply for custody where s/he has shared parenting of the child for 2 years. A grandparent or other relative will be able to apply to court for custody of a child where s/he is an adult who has undertaken the child’s day to day care for more than 12 months and the child has no parent or guardian willing or able to act as guardian.
A grandparent or other relative will be able to apply to court for custody of a child where s/he is an adult who has undertaken the child’s day to day care for more than 12 months and the child has no parent or guardian willing or able to act as guardian.
-Relatives of a child such as grandparents or those acting in loco parentis will be able to apply to have access to children more easily in the context of relationship breakdown.
-A child’s best interests will be 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. These may include requiring that he or she get compensatory time with the child, that his or her expenses be reimbursed or that one or both parties attend parenting programmes, family counselling or receive information on mediation.
-A child co-parented by civil partners will have the same protections as are enjoyed by a child of a family based on marriage. The court will also be able to order a civil partner to pay maintenance for the support of a dependent child of the civil partners, including where the child is the child of only one of the civil partners.
-A maintenance responsibility may be imposed on a cohabiting partner for a partner’s child where the partner is a guardian of the child.
The relevant commencement order is the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 (Commencement of Certain Provisions) Order 2016.
The relevant act is the Children and Family Relationships Act, 2015.