Updated: March 2022

Some sections of The Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 were commenced on 18th January 2016.  This new legislation will directly affect many of our users.

The following are some of the changes:

  • an unmarried father who is cohabiting with the mother of his child for at least one year, 3 months of which are following the birth of the child, will automatically have guardianship rights in respect of his child.  This is not retrospective: only cohabitation after the commencement date (18/1/2016) will be taken into account.  See fathers section
  • step-parents, grandparents and those who have acted in loco parentis may be eligible to apply for guardianship.  See guardianship section
  • the process whereby grandparents can apply for access to their grandchildren has been simplified.  See grandparents section
  • enforcement procedures have been put in place where someone is in breach of a court order.  See access and custody of children
  • a non-parent cohabitant may be obliged to pay maintenance in respect of a child he/she has been caring for.  See maintenance section

The relevant sections of our website have been updated. If you are unclear about any matter please contact an information officer on 01-6700120 or e-mail with your contact details and a member of our information team will be happy to contact you.


Legislative update:16 May 2019 Civil Registration Bill 2019 passed by Both Houses of the Oireachtas. This Bill has now been enacted, and allows both members of same-sex female relationship to register as parents and allows for other necessary changes to Civil Registration to allow both parents apply for Guardianship Rights. It must be noted, that this legislation will only apply to parents who have been assisted by registered services in becoming pregnant.

The Bill will also remove the necessity for a woman to contact an estranged husband when establishing paternity of her child with her new partner, the biological parent of her child.

Information pack for parents who are not married to each other

Information on legal issues, money matters and more are contained in our Information Pack.

There is more detailed information on legal issues in:

We also have information on parenting in unmarried families:

Cohabiting parents

Information for cohabiting parents can be found in our cohabiting parents section. 

Unexpected pregnancy

If your pregnancy is unplanned, counselling can help. Pregnancy counselling provides an opportunity for you to explore your feelings about your pregnancy and to discuss the choices open to you. Call 1800 828 010 or visit

You can also download My Options information pack HERE


If you would like to talk through your individual situation, don’t hesitate to call Treoir on our confidential Call 01-6700120

Useful addresses

Federation of services for unmarried parents and their children
Tel:  01 670 0120, |

The Legal Aid Board
Locall: 0818 615 200, Tel:  066 947 1000, |

Free Legal Advice Centres
Tel:  01 906 1010 |


Treoir 2022

While every effort has been made to ensure the information provided in this webpage is accurate, no responsibility can be accepted by Treoir for any error or omission.