The Irish Examiner, Friday 16th January 2015
A man in his 20s, who had been in a paternity battle with a baby girl’s mother, has now been declared the child’s father.
At the family law court in Ennis, the results of DNA tests provided by both men claiming to be the girl’s father were revealed.
Last year, the two had applied for guardianship of the toddler — who will turn two later this year — resulting in Judge Patrick Durcan adjourning the matter to yesterday to allow both men provide DNA samples to try to prove they were the baby’s father.
Both sides had no legal representation yesterday and, at a tense court hearing, the two men sat side by side. One of the men had married the girl’s mother subsequent to the baby’s birth. All three are foreign nationals.
Judge Patrick Durcan asked: “And who is the father?”
In response, one of the men stood up and handed over the DNA results to the Court Registrar declaring him to be the father.
He said: “I am the father.”
Judge Durcan asked: “And that is agreed by all parties?” The mother replied with a barely audible ‘yes’.
Judge Durcan said the girl’s father had an application for guardianship and the girl’s mother told the court she would be objecting to him getting guardianship.
If granted, guardianship will allow the father have the right to make all major decisions affecting the child’s upbringing, including choice of school, medical treatment, religious matters, health requirements and the welfare of the child.
However, the mother told the court: “I am objecting to guardianship. I do not want to give him guardianship because he slept with me when I was 16 and he was 21.”
She told the court: “I remember calling him to tell him that he was the father and he told me that he doesn’t want to be part of it.”
In response, Judge Durcan said: “This is a very serious issue. The first thing is I want to commend the three of you for the maturity and correctness in which you have approached this matter. It is very refreshing.”
Judge Durcan said guardianship “is a matter that must be determined by the court” and advised all parties to obtain legal advice.
In reply, the father said he had not considered legal advice. “No, I didn’t know it was going to be like this,” he said.
Judge Durcan said: “This is a complicated matter where it is disputed and there is a dispute between you.”
The judge said he would strike out the application for the baby girl’s guardianship by the mother’s husband.
He said he would adjourn the case to February 19 to allow the parties obtain legal advice and the case will need to go to hearing.
Speaking outside court, the father said he is looking forward to holding his baby girl in his arms for the first time. He said: “I have seen her, but I have never held her. I want to ‘step in’ and help her.”
Last September, the father applied for guardianship of the girl. This was followed by the mother’s husband also applying for guardianship.
The husband married the woman subsequent to the birth of the baby so automatic guardianship doesn’t apply in a situation like that.