Almost half of first births in Ireland are to unmarried parents. Some live together but in some cases mothers raise their children alone.
Many of the maternity and welfare services are similar for married and unmarried parents; however, there are areas where unmarried parents are treated differently.
Registering the Birth
Having the father’s name on the birth certificate (and this is very good for a child) requires both parents being involved in the process.
Decisions have to be made about which surname is to be used for the baby – mother’s surname, father’s surname or a double barreled name.
Having a father’s name on the birth certificate does not give him rights
It may be advisable to have a paternity test done to establish paternity conclusively. The procedure is carried out generally using mouth swabs (inside of mouth) taken from the mother, the child and the alleged father.
An unmarried father has no automatic rights to guardianship of his child. A father can obtain guardianship rights by (1) signing a Statutory Declaration (S.I. No. 5 of 1998), where the mother consents; (2) by going to Court; (3) by satisfying the cohabitation period. Since the commencement of new legislation, 18/1/2016, an unmarried father will automatically become the guardian of his child if he satisfies the cohabitation requirement. This means that an unmarried father who cohabits for 12 months with the child’s mother, including 3 months following the birth of his child, 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
For information on any issues affecting unmarried parents:
Get a copy of the “Information Pack for Parents who are not married to each other” from your maternity hospital or directly from Treoir (www.treoir.ie) or you can contact the Treoir National Specialist Information Centre at: LoCall 1 890 252 084 / 01-6700120