The non-custodial parent (that is, the parent the child or children do not live with all of the time) can apply to the court for an access order. This order of the court will set out how access will happen.
Applications can be made to the local District Court and most applications are made to that court. Access arrangements can also form part of an application for judicial separation or divorce in the Circuit Court.
If an order is in place and the terms of the order are not complied with, for example, if access is not granted as set out in the order, the parent can go back to the court for an Enforcement Order [insert link].
If the terms of the order prove not to be workable, either of the parties can return to the court to apply to have the order changed or varied in a Variation Order [insert link].
If an unmarried father is applying to the court for both guardianship and access, separate applications must be made, but both applications will be heard by the court at the same time.
Sometimes, in certain circumstances, it will be decided that the access with the child should be supervised and the order will provide for supervised access [insert link].
Procedures and Rules
The procedures to follow to obtain a court order are set out in the court rules. The forms to use are at the end of the court rules documents:
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.
The following court form will help in the preparation of an application:
Form 58.19: Notice of application under section 11b for an order giving access.