The area of law on children is delicate and complex. The most common issues that arise with children are guardianship and custody. However, the scope of children within the law goes far beyond parental rights.
One common aspect is that of entering into a contract with a child.
A minor may enter into a contract for necessities. Deciding what is a necessity is at the discretion of the court. If the contract is for a service beneficial to the child, for example, they sign a contract with a sports club, this may also be upheld as valid.
Children and Property Ownership – Trusts
If a parent wishes to vest property in a child, under the Law Reform and Conveyancing Act 2009, the property would vest in trustees. The trustees would then be the child’s guardians. The 2009 Act clarifies this situation. While it is held by the guardian, the child will eventually own it at the age of 18. If the guardian passes away before then, the property will vest in the new guardian until the child reaches maturity.
Children and Inheritance
Succession can pose some problems for children if believe they are entitled to a share in their parent’s estate. If a child feel that they were not adequately provided for in their parent’s will they may have recourse to the law. They can make an application under section 117 of the Succession Act 1965 where they feel their parent has failed in their moral duty to provide for them.
There is no automatic right of a child to be provided for in their parents Will.
If an application is brought before the court, it will be examined closely to determine if the parent failed to make proper provision for the child throughout their lifetime.
Fathers and Guardianship
When it comes to parental rights during their lifetime there is often confusion surrounding the terms guardianship, custody and access.
Guardianship is deemed to be a position of overriding responsibility which deals with important matters such as the education of the child, where they reside and any important medical issues which may arise.
Where the parents of the child are not married, the mother of the child has an automatic right to guardianship. The father of the child is entitled to guardianship but this is not the same as having it. They must make an application to the court to have this granted.
Custody on the other hand, looks at the day to day requirements of the child. If a couple are married with children, by virtue of this relationship, both parents are joint custodians.
Access is granted by the courts to a parent or relative of the child whom they do not live. It can be in the form of visitation or contact via phone calls.
Overall, it is important to remember that most issues raised before the court on children w ill be decided upon at the discretion of the court and with the aim of achieving a solution which is in the best interests of the child.
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The material contained in this article is provided for general information purposes only. We advise you to seek specific advice from us about any legal decision or course of action.