On a human level, what happens to your children is the most emotive element of any break-up and most parents agree that children should always be the number one priority. Their benefit and welfare should come first before deciding any matter, but let’s take a look at what’s involved in this: ….
1. What are the main issues to be decided? From a legal perspective, the main issues to be determined are Custody, Guardianship and Access.
2. Do these issues have to be determined for all my children, even the older ones? Your children will all be classed as dependent up to the age of 18, or if they continue into third level education, up to the age of 23.
3. Where will my children live? Who retains custody of the children is one of the major decisions involved in separation and divorce proceedings. Legally this can be determined by either allocating Sole Custody to one parent, or preserving Joint Custody, but specifying that the children live with one parent in particular. This person will be referred to legally as the “primary carer”.
4. If I lose custody, can I still see my children? Where one parent has been awarded either sole custody, or primary care, then provision must be made for the terms under which the other parent will have access/contact with the children. Access means how often and when the child sees the other parent. Access can be set down as an established routine or may be left flexible, subject to what suits the parties and the child.
5. Can both parents have a role in key decisions about how the children are brought up? Normally the parties will remain joint Guardians of the children, even after separation and this will permit both parents to continue to have full involvement in making decision about how the child is brought up – deciding together about such issues as education, religion or medical matters.
For further information on these questions or any others relating to your separation or divorce, you can contact me, Deirdre Burke, on: 0404 67540 or email me at Deirdre.Burke@dmburke.ie.