This is my family Bridget H CC BY 2.0

Custody, guardianship and access are all terms that relate to a parent’s relationship with their child.  They can also be relevant to other adults who may not be biological parents but who are involved in the life or upbringing of a child.

NB:  The Children and Family Relationships Act, 2015  has brought in significant changes in several areas of family law.  In particular custody, access, maintenance and succession rights have been impacted by this law. Please see the relevant page for information concerning these changes.

Custody refers to the day to day care of the child.

Guardianship relates to the ability to participate in major decisions in respect of the child’s life and upbringing and is a legal status that can be held automatically by the parents of the child or persons can also be appointed guardians by the court.

Access refers to the ability to maintain contact with a child through periods of visitation in order to foster or maintain a relationship with that child and such arrangements can, where appropriate, be made for extended family members.

  • Family Law and Children: This useful information booklet produced by the Free Legal Aid Centre, gives a detailed but easily understandable account of the law in relation to custody, access and guardianship. This includes the identification of those with automatic legal status and responsibilities, often determined by the status of the parental relationship. The booklet also outlines the criteria for eligibility for legal aid.
  • Custody, Access and Guardianship: This resource from One Family gives a useful explanation of the law in relation to custody, access and guardianship particularly focusing on non-marital parents.

Image by BRIDGET H CC – BY – 2.0


One Family


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