Relevant court forms
What is Access
Access is contact between a child and its parent or other relative with whom the child does not live. It can be physical in the sense of the child seeing their parent or relative in person or it can be by means of a letter, telephone or other form of electronic communication. It can also mean having the right to visit and spend time with a child and to take them out for an agreed length of time.
What happens when parents separate?
When parents of a child separate they can make informal arrangements so that the other parent can have access to their child on a regular basis without having to go to court.
Where the parents cannot agree to an informal arrangement, either parent can ask the court to decide which parent will have custody of the child and what access the other parent will have.
Who can apply for access?
An unmarried father can apply for access whether or not he is a guardian. He can do this even if his name is not on the the child's birth certificate, or where his application for joint guardianship has been refused.
The Children Act, 1997 gives any person related to the child by blood or by adoption, such as grandparents, the right to apply to the District Court for permission to apply for access. This could also apply to a partner or spouse of the child's mother or father who may have lived with the child and acted (in loco parentis) in the place of a parent. Parents or relatives of a child in the care of TUSLA (the Child and Family Agency) can also apply for access.
The court may, in some cases, grant access on the condition that it is supervised.
How to make an application for access
Most applications for access are made in the District Court. You can engage a solicitor to make an application on your behalf or you can make the application yourself. You may be entitled to legal aid.
If you choose not to engage a solicitor you will need to contact the District Court office in the area where you or the respondent live. You must complete and lodge the relevant court forms in the court office. Court staff will identifythe forms you need tomake your application but cannot tell you what to put in the forms.
Notice of the application must be served on the respondent at least fourteen days or, in the case of proceedings certified as urgent, at least two days, before the date of the court hearing. After service, the notice, together with a statutory declaration as to service, must be lodged with the District Court clerk at least two days before the date of the court hearing. You must also attend in court on the day to make your application.
Where the District Court makes an order under the Act, the court clerk will give, or send by ordinary post, a copy of the order to each person in whose favour or against whom the order was made.
Sometimes applications for custody and access form part of other proceedings for example, judicial separation or divorce in the Circuit Court or the High Court. In such cases the appropriate court to deal with an application for custody and/or access is the court dealing with the other proceedings. This includes applications to vary or discharge previous custody and/or access orders.
Where there is an access order in place and the access is either unreasonably denied or not taken up, a parent/guardian of the child(ren) may apply to the court for an enforcement order.
District Court: S.I. No.125 of 1999: District Court (Custody and Guardianship of Children) Rules 1999; S.I. No 17 of 2016: District Court (Children and Family Relationships Act 2015) Rules 2016.
- Form 58.17: Notice of application under section 11 for the court's direction
- Form 58.49: Statement of Arrangements for Child
- Form 58.43: Notice of application for enforcement order
- Form 58.45: Notice of application for an order varying or terminating an enforcement order
- Form: 10.1 Statutory declaration as to service by registered prepaid post pursuant to section 7 of the Courts Act, 1964 / section 22 of the Courts Act, 1991
- Form: 10.2 Statutory declaration as to service by prepaid registered post
- Form: 10.3 Statutory declaration as to personal service
Circuit Court: S.I. No. 358 of 2008:Circuit Court Rules (Case Progression)
- Form 37L: Summons to attend case progression hearing
- Form 37N: Case progression questionnaire
High Court: S.I. No. 15 of 1986: Rules of the Superior Courts - Order 70
- S.I. No. 93 of 1997: District Court Rules
- S.I. No. 17 of 2016: District Court (Children and Family Relationships Act 2015) Rules 2016
- S.I. No. 510 of2001: Circuit Court Rules
- S.I. No. 312 of 2007: Circuit Court Rules (General) 2007
- S.I. No. 358
page updated: 18 August 2016