Child Custody Access and Guardianship

Child Custody Access and Guardianship


When couples separate, they normally continue to share joint custody of their children. This doesn’t guarantee the time spent with each parent is exactly equal but it means that both parents play an equally significant role in their children’s lives.

It is open to either parent to apply for sole custody if they have concerns regarding their child’s welfare while with the other parent. This is a complicated area of family law and advice should be sought from a family law solicitor.


Parental Access

Separating couples often do not agree on arrangements for the care of their child or children. We can discuss the legal options available to you and advise you on the different approaches to separated parenting.

We can initiate and facilitate negotiations with the other parent or, failing that, apply to the Court for its direction. Court proceedings should always be the last option to pursue, and the parents should always put the best interests of the children at the forefront of any decision.

Common issues in custody and access matters include:

  • Who will the children live with?
  • How much time will they spend with the non-resident parent?
  • Education – which school and costs
  • Contact with the extended family including grandparents
  • Introduction of a new partner and how that should be handled
  • Holidays – Christmas, Easter, summer etc.

Liston Family Law can guide you through the process and, if Court action is necessary, outline the possible orders that a Judge might make.

Access is a very emotional area and it is best to fully understand the options and possible outcomes prior to reaching a settlement. Please contact us for a confidential discussion.

Grandparents Access

An often unfortunate casualty in a relationship breakdown involving children, grandparents can go from playing an integral role in their grandchild’s life with frequent contact and visits to having no or limited access. This can be hugely confusing for the children involved and equally upsetting for the grandparents.

Attempts should be made between the parties to reinstate some form of access. If unsuccessful, grandparents can apply for access by making an application to the District Court.

Liston Family Law can assist you in those attempts or, if they fail, we can represent you if you need to bring an application.  The Court always bases its decisions on the best interests of the child.

If you are a grandparent who has lost access or who has very limited access to your grandchildren please contact us for an appointment and we can explain how we can assist you.


What Is It?

As a guardian of a child, you have rights and responsibilities in relation to him or her. These include financially providing and caring for the child as well as having the right to be involved in decisions about the child’s education and general upbringing.

Who Is A Guardian?

The biological mother of a child is automatically their guardian. For married parents, the father is also a guardian.

If a child is born outside of marriage, only the mother has automatic rights. This is true even where the father’s name is on the birth certificate. Legal rights and responsibilities flow from guardianship, not the birth certificate.

How Can I Be Appointed A Guardian?

By Agreement: if the mother of the child(ren) agrees, the father can become a joint guardian with her. Both parties sign a statutory declaration and have their signatures witnessed.

Court Process: if the mother does not consent to the father being a joint guardian, an application must be brought to the Court.

Other people who have a close relationship with a child (e.g. step-parent or grandparent) and who care for the child for a continuous period of time, may apply to the Court to be appointed a guardian.

If you are considering applying for guardianship or have been served with Court papers relating to guardianship, please contact Liston Family Law who can advise you on this area of family law.