Access is the right to see and communicate with the child (often referred to as visitation rights). 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.
Who can apply for Access?
An unmarried father can apply for Access whether or not he is a Guardian. He can do so even if his name is not on the birth certificate, or where his application for joint guardianship has been refused. 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.
Access for persons other than parents?
Prior to Section 9 of the Childrens Act, 1997 only a parent or a guardian could apply for access. Now any relative is entitled to apply for access. This is a two stage process:
- A person may not make an application for access unless the person has first applied for and has been granted leave to make the application. The court in deciding whether or not to allow a relative to make an application for access will look at the following:
(a) the applicant’s connection with the child,
(b) the risk, if any, of the application disrupting the child’s life to the extent that the child would be harmed by it,
(c) the wishes of the child’s guardians
A relative of a child who is the subject of an adoption order includes a relative of the child’s adoptive parents, the adoptive parents of the child’s parents, or a relative of the adoptive parents of the child’s parents.
- Once leave is granted, an application for access can be made in the normal way (How to make an application for Access)
Supervised Access & Indirect Access
The courts may in some cases grant Access on the condition that it is supervised by either the mother of the child or by another nominated person. Indirect Access is facilitated through cards, emails, letters etc
How to Make an Application for Access:
The majority of applications are made to the District Court. Applications can be made by engaging us or alternatively by clicking on the link provided here.
Where courts make an Access order which is difficult to implement, either parent can go back to the court to vary the access order. If you are unhappy with an access order made by the District Court you can appeal this order to the Circuit Court within 14 days.
Q. My partner will not allow me to see my child, what should I do?
A. If an access Order has already been made, you can make a further application to the Court to enforce this Order. The ultimate sanction against a parent who is refusing access in breach of an Order, is prison. If an Order has not been made, then you should make an immediate application to Court if the other parent continues to refuse access.
Q. I received an access order from the courts but my ex-partner still will not allow my to see my child, what should I do?
A. Failure to abide by a court order is a serious offence. You should immediately make an application for breach of an access order.
Q. How much does it cost to make an application for access?
A. Access cases usually cost between €700 and €1000 in the District Court and usually take up to eight weeks to get a hearing date.