Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 25 November 2014

TD calls for reform of family law

Mary White, minister for equality, has called for changes to family law
Mary White, minister for equality, has called for changes to family law

A junior minister has called for reform of family law to give equal rights to single fathers and unmarried couples.

Mary White, Green Party TD and minister for equality, warned many men suffer difficulties from marital or relationship breakdown and a lack of access to their children.

She said: "In parallel with the need for support and services for fathers is the need for reform of family law. At the heart of society there must be equality before the law and I hope that soon there will be equality between parents, regardless of gender or marital status."

The junior minister opened a new office of the charity Families, Fathers and Friends at the Guinness enterprise centre in Dublin. The charity provides counselling, mediation, advice and information to fathers.

The Government is considering a Law Reform Commission report from last December on reforming legislation on fathers' rights. It called for mothers and fathers, regardless of marital status, to be given automatic joint parental responsibility for their children.

The commission also called for the automatic joint registration of both parents on a birth certificate to reinforce the right of a child to know their parents.

Ms White said she would raise the issue with Justice Minister Dermot Ahern.

"I look forward to meeting the Minister for Justice to advance the review of such legislation in the coming weeks," she said.

Ms White said she was pleased the charity would be available to fathers in the Dublin area after several years serving the Galway region.

She added: "There are many men in Ireland who suffer difficulties from marital or relationship breakdown and a lack of access to their children for various reasons. Not being able to participate fully in a child's life is painful for any committed parent. There is an ongoing need for supports and services for decent dads in such situations."

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