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Emergency custody should not have been granted to father even in case of significant risk to child

By: Mark Tottenham BL

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High Court, in answer to a case stated: (a) determines that the District Court did not have jurisdiction to make an ex parte order concerning the custody of children, even in a case where there appeared to be a significant risk to them, on the grounds that there existed legislative procedures for An Garda Siochána and the Child and Family Agency to make emergency applications for custody, and it was not appropriate for an order to be made having heard one parent alone; but (b) indicates the procedure to be followed in future such applications.

Case stated from District Court to High Court - family law - custody and access - concerns communicated by Gardai to father about safety of children - partner of mother alleged to be facing serious criminal charges - s. 6A of the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964 - District Court order granting liberty to issue summonses - order that father have day-to-day care and control of children pending full hearing - whether District Court had jurisdiction to make order on an ex parte basis where there appeared to exist a significant risk to children - whether question moot - question of exceptional public importance - rights of children - Article 42A, Bunreacht na hÉireann - ss 12 and 13, Child Care Act 1991.

Note: This is intended to be a fair and accurate report of a decision made public by a court of law. Any errors should be notified to the editor and will be dealt with accordingly.

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