Guardianship is the collection of rights and duties that parents have, or can acquire, in respect of their child or children.
The biological mother of the child is automatically a guardian. The Children and Family Relationship Act 2015 introduced provisions which means that a spouse, civil partner or cohabitant (have to have co-habited with the other parent for over 3 years), can apply for guardianship provided they have shared parenting responsibility for the child for over 2 years.
The applicant must apply to the District Court for Guardianship.
Assisted Human Reproduction Services
There is no legislation in Ireland governing AHR, although the Government have published draft legislation called the General Scheme for Assisted Human Reproduction 2017, which will regulate this area when the Bill is passed. In recent years, more clinics have opened up their services to same-sex female couples, however until the regulations are in place it is uncertain whether they can be legally obliged to do so. See useful links on this page for clinics who do treat same sex female couples.
There is no legislation in Ireland dealing with surrogacy, however the General Scheme of Assisted Human Reproduction 2017, does continue provisions to introduce limited surrogacy to Ireland. This legislation is at a very early stage of debate and will take some time to become law.
For those couples who have or plan to undertaken surrogacy abroad, the Department of Justice and Equality has published very useful guidelines in relation to citizenship, parentage, guardianship and travel document issues in relation to children born as a result of surrogacy arrangements entered into outside the state, see useful documents.
The Adoption Amendment Act 2017, commenced provisions in the Children and Family Relationship Act 2015, which allows for married, civilly partnered or co-habiting couples, to apply to adopt a child jointly. It is also possible to apply to adopt as a single applicant.
If you are considering adoption contact a your Local Adoption Office in the HSE.
It is possible for same sex couples to apply to the HSE to foster a child. If you are interested in fostering, you should contact your Local Fostering Office in the HSE. (Links). The Irish Foster Care Association can also help with any enquiries you might have around fostering a child. See www.ifca.ie
Information and Support for LGBT Parents and their Children
Treoir, an organisation which provides information for unmarried parents, has a section on their website for LGBT parents, which provides legal information on a range of issues from guardianship to parental leave. See useful links on this page.
To get an insight into the experiences and issues facing children of LGBT parents, Marriage Equality’s Voices of Children report, outlines the findings of a consultation with a same group of adult children with lesbian parents. While the experiences of LGBT Parents and those planning parenthood are documented in the first study of its kind undertaken in Ireland, The LGBT Parenthood Study. See useful documents on this page.