Still Missing the Point on Children’s Rights and the Non-Marital Family
The Irish Times reports on a recent conference at the Law Society at which serious criticism was directed at the provisions of the Civil Partnership Bill 2009. In particular, speakers noted that the Bill was problematic from the perspective of children’s rights. Geoffrey Shannon argued that:
Children had been airbrushed out of the proposed legislation… Although a person could acquire rights as a cohabitee after two years by having a child, no further provision for the child was made in the legislation.
Muriel Walls also criticised the marginal position afforded to children in the Bill
Giving as an example a lesbian couple where one of them had a child from a brief previous relationship and where most of the care duties were performed by the other partner because of the mother’s work commitments, she pointed out that if the relationship broke up this woman would have no right to seek any contact with the child.
If the roles were reversed and the earning partner was not the biological parent, the child would have no right to maintenance under the Bill.
However, they would have some relief under the 1964 Guardianship of Infants Act, she pointed out, as it allowed for any person who had acted in loco parentis to a child to apply to the court for an order giving access to the child. The court had first to give leave for the making of such an application, so the process was cumbersome.