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Family Law -
Custody, Access, Guardianship

Do you need advice in relation to Access,
Custody, Guardianship or Maintenance?


It is common for couples who are separating to not have agreement on the care of the child or children of their union. Here at Downing Courtney & Larkin LLP, we are available to discuss all your legal options in this regard.

We can commence and enable communication and negotiations with the other parent and if agreement cannot be reached, we can apply to the Court for it’s direction and obtain any orders as are necessary to allow for fair and reasonable access. One of the core principles of Family Law and one which we as solicitors at Downing Courtney & Larkin Solicitors LLP at all times uphold is that the welfare of any child or children of the union is paramount. Resorting to Court, should always be a last resort for all parties when endeavouring to reach agreement on access.


When a relationship breaks down, it usually the norm that joint custody of the children is facilitated between the estranged couple. This might not always translate into equal time with the children for each parent but rather it may mean that parents play an equally important and significant role in their children’s lives. It is additionally open to either parent to apply for sole custody if they have reasonable cause to have concerns about the welfare of their child while under the care of the other parent.

This is a complicated and technical area of the law and Downing Courtney  & Larkin Solicitors LLP are on hand to assist and guide you through it.


Common issues that arise in custody and access cases:

  1. Who will the child/children reside with?
  2. How much time will they spend with the parent who does not ordinarily reside with them?
  3. How will costs about education be met and the decision on choosing a school?
  4. How will custody and access be defined and determined in relation to important times of the year such as Christmas, Eastertime and summertime?
  5. How will the matter of introducing a new partner be dealt with or handled?
  6. How will time and contact with any Grandparents be decided?

Downing Courtney & Larkin Solicitors LLP are on hand to steer you through this daunting process, advise you of all your options and whether or not any Court involvement is necessary in assisting you in this area that is often fraught with intensity and emotion.


When you are a guardian of a child, this essentially entails that you have certain rights and responsibilities in relation to this child. These can encompass being financially responsible for the child, providing physical care and emotional support whilst also being responsible for decisions surrounding the child’s education and general upbringing.

When a couple are married, they are both the automatic guardians of any children of the marriage.

If a child is born to a couple who have not married, the only the biological mother is automatically the guardian. A non-marital father who lives with the child’s mother for at least 12 consecutive months including not less than 3 after the child’s birth will automatically be guardian of the child where the child was born on or after the 18th January 2016.

Non- marital fathers who don’t meet the criteria for automatic guardianship can be appointed a Joint Guardian by the District Court or by mutual agreement  and the family law experts at Downing Courtney & Larkin Solicitors LLP can guide you through this process. Other parties close to the child may also be appointed guardian by agreement, say for example,  a step-parent or grand-parent, or by order of the Court.

Other people who have a close relationship with a child (e.g. step-parent or grandparent) and who care for the child for a continuous period of time, may apply to the Court to be appointed a guardian.

If you are thinking of making an application for guardianship or have been served with legal papers in relation to same, let Downing Courtney & Larkin Solicitors LLP assist you.


All parents under the law in Ireland have a legal duty and responsibility to care financially for their children within the parameters of their own means. This obligation remains whether you are married or unmarried.

A comparable obligation exists to support a spouse or civil partner depending on the needs of each party. Cohabiting partners do not enjoy the same rights unless they can show that they are financially dependant on their partner.

The Court will consider the financial status of each party and the requisite needs of any dependents when making any orders in relation to maintenance.

If you are an unmarried couple with a child/children and you are unable to agree maintenance or you are not receiving what was previously agreed, we can assist you through initiating correspondence with your ex-partner requesting them to provide for you/pay what has been previously agreed.  If this proves unfruitful, we can then make an application through the District Court compelling them to pay and any order made is then usually payable through the District Court Office.

Please feel free to contact us now for a complimentary, no -obligation fee quotation if you have any queries in relation to custody, access, guardianship or maintenance and we will revert to you within 24 hours. Or you can telephone us directly on 064 6631061 and speak to a member of our team immediately.

*Please note that the information above is demonstrative only, please contact us directly so that we can discuss your individual case.

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