Guardianship means the rights and duties of parents for the upbringing of their children. This includes the duty to maintain and care for the child.
When a marriage breaks down and the parents have not come to an agreement in respect of the dependent children, the court is obliged to give direction as to which home the dependent children should reside at. The court will determine this by having regard to the child’s religious, moral, intellectual, physical and social welfare.

Meaning of a Guardian
In an unmarried relationship the natural mother has sole guardianship of a child born. The nature of the relationship that the father has with the mother will depend on whether he has automatic guardianship of his child.

Unless the mother agrees to sign a Statutory Declaration the father must apply to the court to become an appointed legal guardian of his child. When a non-marital relationship breaks down and the parents have not about the child’s welfare, the court will give direction as to which home the child should reside at.

Rights of a guardian
A guardian appointed under the Guardianship of Infants Act, 1964 shall be entitled to custody of the child and shall be entitled to take proceedings for the restoration of his or her custody of the child against any person who wrongfully takes away or detains the child.

Applications in relation to guardianship and custody can be made to the District Court, the Circuit Court and the High Court.