The recent tragic case of the very ill baby boy born in a Dublin maternity hospital highlights the lack of rights afforded to unmarried fathers. As the couple in this case were not married, the father was not a guardian on the birth of the child. Where the parents are not married to each other only the mother is automatically a guardian when the child is born. The father therefore had no right to make any major decisions regarding his baby.
As a result of this case we have had a number of calls from worried unmarried pregnant women. If an unmarried pregnant women is concerned she could make a Will appointing the father, or another appropriate person (for example a grandmother) as a Testamentary Guardian. This person would then have the right to make decisions regarding the welfare of the child in the event of her death. See Guardianship.
Normally you must be 18 years old, or married, in order to make a will. However, a mother under 18 can make a will if it is to appoint a Testamentary Guardian for her child.
For more information see the article written by Margot Doherty, Assistant Chief Executive of Treoir in The Journal.ie.