The Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald TD, today published the Children and Family Relationships Bill 2015 (CFRBill).
This ground-breaking piece of legislation will bring Ireland into line with its European and international neighbours and will regularise the diverse family units that already exist in modern Ireland. Census 2011 showed that Irish families are increasingly diverse and an increasing proportion of families are types other than those headed by married parents. For example, according to the Census, in 2011 in Ireland, there were:
- 215,315 lone-parent households;
- 17,378 lone-parents in multi-family households;
- 4,042 same-sex couples living together;
- 49,005 households of cohabiting couples with children under 15;
- 25,190 children born outside marriage or civil partnership, a number that is increasing year-on-year.
The CFR Bill will allow same-sex couples to adopt children, and, in line with best international practice, allow children access to information on biological parents in cases of assisted human reproduction. The Bill also provides crucial legal support and protection for the relationships between children and those parenting them, including married or unmarried parents, a parent’s partner, grandparents or relatives. There will be new provisions for parentage, guardianship, custody and access across situations that are not addressed adequately in current Irish law.
The CFR Bill addresses the need of children for security in their family situations, whether living with their married parents, their unmarried parents, a parent and the parent’s partner, or a grandparent or other relative.
The Minister described the Bill as “a legal bedrock upon which the diversity of families will be valued, nurtured and recognised in today’s Ireland” and “a major reform of family law which so clearly sets out to vindicate the equal right of every child to the recognition of their families”.
She went on to say that “the Bill acknowledges just how much family life has changed in recent decades and puts a firm and detailed protective framework around children”, and that it places the best interests of the child as “paramount”. For the first time, this bill “articulates … rights for grandparents and others whose relationship with a child is often sundered against their will – and the child’s will – because of a breakdown in relationships”.
You can read Minister Fitzgerald’s press statement here.