New Legislation Commenced – 18/1/2016

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.

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. For a list of free, non judgemental, trustworthy crisis pregnancy counselling services freetext LIST to 50444 or visit

If you would like to talk through your individual situation, don’t hesitate to call us on our confidential LoCall number – 1890 252 084 or 01-6700120