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July 2003
One Parent Family Information Guide
by
Comhairle, DSFA, AIM, Treoir, Cherish, Gingerbread 

INTRODUCTION INTRODUCTION TO LEGAL ISSUES
SUPPORTS GUARDIANSHIP
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS CUSTODY
SOCIAL WELFARE ENTITLEMENTS ACCESS
EMPLOYMENT SUPPORTS CHILD ABDUCTION
EDUCATION OPTIONS MAINTENANCE
MATERNITY LEAVE AND PAYMENTS WILLS AND INHERITANCE
PARENTAL LEAVE COHABITATION
TAX MEDIATION
HEALTH LEGAL SEPARATION
HOUSING DIVORCE
CHILD CARE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
REGISTRATION OF BIRTHS BY UNMARRIED PARENTS MAXIMUN RATES OF SOCIAL WELFARE PAYMENTS 2003
PATERNITY TESTING TAX RATES AND BANDS 2003
PASSPORT APPLICATIONS USEFUL ADDRESSES

 

Introduction

As a lone parent you may have found yourself having to cope with the realities of parenting on your own, and you may not know what to do, or where to turn for accurate information on the many issues which are new in your life. This booklet has been written to provide you with factual information which you might need now that you are a lone parent.

This guide brings together information on a range of practical topics relating to the rights and entitlements of one parent families, some of which you will need immediately and some of which you may need as time goes on. So, don't feel that you have to read it right through right now. For example, you may need the social welfare information immediately, but may not need to know about passport applications until much later in your child's life.

While it is not possible to include everything which might be of interest to lone parents, every effort has been made to ensure that the information which is in this guide is accurate and integrated. Many of the areas touched on in the guide are complex. You may need to seek further information from the
agencies listed at the back of the book, or to obtain specific legal or professional advice. All the agencies referred to in the text are included in this list.

Your information needs may be different depending on your situation, for instance, whether you are single or separated. So, we have given checklists relating to different situations in the index at the back of this book: single or unmarried - see page 126 or 127, separated - see page 126, divorced - see page 120, widowed - see page 128.

This guide has been prepared by AIM Family Services, Cherish, Comhairle, the Department of Social and Family Affairs, Gingerbread and Treoir. Funding for the guide was provided by Comhairle and the Department of Social and Family Affairs.

This is the fourth edition of the One Parent Families Information Guide. Information was compiled in May 2003. The
social welfare rates of payment referred to in the guide are correct at the time of printing (July 2003).

Supports

The Department of Social and Family Affairs is there to support the financial needs of families who cannot provide for themselves. Contact them for information on your social welfare entitlements, and talk to the Jobs Facilitator in the local offices for options on going back to work.

As a lone parent, it can sometimes be good to get together with other people who are in a similar situation, to offer each other support, and to learn from each other. So, it could be useful for you to contact a support group in your area. Being a lone parent can be an isolating experience. Treoir has a nationwide list of local lone-parent support groups. Local community development projects and Family Resource Centres may have specific groups or programmes targeted at supporting lone parents. Cherish also runs training courses and support groups for lone parents. Many courses are designed to help you make positive decisions for yourself and your family, and to give you an opportunity to explore some of the challenging aspects of being a lone parent.

You may also need to talk to someone who is not directly involved in your situation and can give you unbiased support.

AIM Family Services and Gingerbread offer information and support to one parent families. Your local Citizens Information
Centre can give you information on your rights and entitlements and also on support groups in your area.

The list of agencies at the back of this book will be useful in locating other services.

Make sure that you look after your own health, as your health can worsen during this difficult period. You need to take steps that will improve your physical and mental capabilities and help to keep you in good shape. Check locally for specific women's health services and men's health services. Your local Citizens Information Centre can help with information on these.

You can do a great deal to help yourself. Managing the Stress of Separation or Divorce - a leaflet published recently in Ireland by the Family Mediation Services suggests that you:

· Learn to relax - and you do have to learn this! There are special techniques to train people to relax.

· Work off stress physically - physical activity is a terrific outlet.

· Talk to someone you really trust.

· Be fair to yourself. Take responsibility for your own feelings and needs.

· Cry if it makes you feel better. It's OK.

· Maintain a sense of perspective. Try to avoid blowing issues out of all proportion.

· Allow yourself to be angry. Anger can be one of the strongest emotions. It is a normal response to a devastating blow. Find acceptable outlets for anger and frustration. Scream into a pillow, run, walk, swim, hit a punching bag.

· Avoid people who create anxiety. You can't be everything to everybody.

· Try to think positively and don't allow yourself to focus on negative things.

· Put aside some time for unwinding.

· Get the balance right in being kind to yourself and others. You need to meet your own needs as a person in order to continue to be an effective parent.

Your parenting style will have to be adapted to your living situation.

Treoir has a useful publication - Family Links - steps and stages - which aims to assist parents help their children understand their family situation. It gives some positive pointers for shared parenting:

· Parenting is a job for life, and for children there is no such thing as an ex-parent.

· It is not adding people to children's lives but taking important people away that is hard for children to accept.

· Children recognise the importance of a continuing relationship or link with both parents, no matter how distant.

· Children need to know that it is alright for them to love both parents and to like or love step-parents.

· Try to come to terms with the fact that your children may have a relationship with their other parent over which you have no
control.

· Adults need to separate their parenting relationship with their children from the relationship they have with each other.

· Don't let your own unresolved emotions get in the way, and do not involve your children in parental conflict or a loyalty struggle.

· All children, in both one and two parent families, can sometimes be demanding.

· Even though your relationship with your partner is over, this does not mean that either parent is a failure as a person.

· Most important of all, be positive about your children. They are unique and important human beings. Children's confidence and
self-esteem blossom when they hear good things about themselves and those close to them.

At the end of the day it is important that children feel loved by both parents, and can feel free to love both of you as parents.

Frequently asked questions

One-Parent Family Payment (OFP)

What happens after I complete my application for One-Parent Family Payment? It is important to answer all questions on the application form and supply all relevant information when applying for a payment.

Once your claim is received in the Department of Social and Family Affairs, it is registered and you are allocated a Claim Number which you must use in all your contacts and correspondence with the Department.

Most applicants are interviewed by a local Social Welfare Inspector who determines your circumstances and entitlement to payment.

Your case is then passed to a Deciding Officer who decides on your entitlement to payment. Claims are processed as soon as possible once all the necessary information is submitted.

Are there any extra benefits with One-Parent Family Payment?
If you are getting a One-Parent Family Payment, you may qualify for:

· Fuel Allowance, see page 27
· Rent or Mortgage Interest Supplement, see page 27
· Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance, see page 27
· Family Income Supplement if you are working and on low pay, see pages 30-33
· Medical card (from your regional health board), see page 56

Can I get One-Parent Family Payment and other social welfare payments?
You may be entitled to the following payments at half rate, if you satisfy the PRSI conditions:

· Disability Benefit, for up to 15 months
· Health and Safety Benefit
· Maternity Benefit
· Adoptive Benefit
· Unemployment Benefit, for up to 15 months

What happens when my youngest child reaches 18?
Once your youngest child reaches 18, or 22 years of age if she/he is in full time education, you are no longer entitled to One-Parent Family Payment.

You can, however, claim Unemployment Assistance provided you satisfy the qualifying conditions. Alternatively, you can claim Supplementary Welfare Allowance, see page 26.

Will I pay tax on my One-Parent Family Payment?
Income Tax will not be deducted from your payment by the Department of Social and Family Affairs. However, this payment is regarded as income for income tax purposes and your liability for tax will depend on your overall financial circumstances.

See the sections on tax, pages 49-55, and employment supports, pages 30-41.

If I divorce my husband or wife, will this affect my payment?
If you divorce your spouse, this will not affect your entitlement to One-Parent Family Payment. If your former spouse dies, you can continue to be paid One-Parent Family Payment. Or if it is more beneficial to you, you can apply for a Widow's/Widower's (Contributory) Pension based on your own or your former spouse's PRSI record. This is as long as you haven't remarried.

I am not married. If the name of my child's father is on the birth cert, will it affect my One-Parent Family Payment?
No. Whether or not the father's name is on the birth cert, you will be asked to try and get maintenance from him in respect
of his child.

Will I lose my One-Parent Family Payment if the father pays maintenance?
No. A certain amount of maintenance in respect of housing costs may not be taken into account. After that, half of what the father pays will be assessed as means.

How much can I earn before my One-Parent Family Payment is reduced?
You can earn up to €146.50 a week and qualify for the full rate of One-Parent Family Payment (provided you have no other assessable means). Earnings between €146.50 and €293 will cause a reduction in your One-Parent Family Payment, see page 19.

Family home

My name is not on the deeds of our family home and my husband refuses to change that. Can I force him to put the house in our joint names?
In a word, no. However, he cannot sell or mortgage the home without your written consent, or else without getting a court order that your consent is not necessary. If you are getting a legal separation or divorce, the court may declare that you are entitled to a share of the value of the house and/or may give you the right to live there or may order its sale and that you receive a share of the proceeds. If your spouse dies and you have not given up or lost your succession rights, then you are entitled to a share of his/her estate. The precise share depends on whether or not he/she has made a will and whether or not you have children. You can claim the family home as part of that share.

I am a common-law wife. What are my rights to my partner's property?
None, unless you have made a financial input to the purchase of the property. See the section on cohabitation, pages 88-90.

Unmarried fathers

Does putting the father's name on the birth cert give him any rights in respect of his child?
No. Having the father's name on the birth cert does not give him any guardianship rights in respect of his child.

As an unmarried father how much maintenance will I be expected to pay?
An unmarried father has no responsibility to maintain the mother of his child. He does have a responsibility to maintain his child.

There is no fixed amount of maintenance. €150 is the most a father can be asked to pay per week per child in the local District Court. There is no maximum amount in the Circuit Court.

Do I have to get the father's permission to get a passport?
We are not married to each other. This depends on whether he is a joint guardian or not. If he is a guardian, his permission is required. If he is not a guardian, his permission is not required.

My child's father keeps in touch only rarely. Would it be better if he didn't visit at all?
Research shows that children appreciate any contact with both parents, no matter how little. However, it is best if contact can take place in an atmosphere where there is no conflict.

My child's father is not paying any maintenance, so I don't think he should see his child. Is this right?
The right and need of a father and child to keep in touch do not depend on whether the father is paying maintenance or not. It is good for children to be in touch with both parents and it is good for children if both parents maintain and support them. However, one does not depend on the other.

As an unmarried father, how can I put my name on my child's birth cert as the mother doesn't want me to?
You must have a court order which names you as father in order to re-register the birth.

My girlfriend will not let me see our child. What can I do?
Your child has a right to see both parents. If you cannot work out access arrangements between you or with the help of a mediator, you can apply to the local District Court for an access order. The court will look at what is in the best interests of the child. The safety and welfare of the child is the most important matter and if the court believes that there is no threat to the child, access is usually given.

Return to work

My children are all now at school. Where can I get information on going back to work?
From any of the following: the Jobs Facilitator in your local Social Welfare office, FΑS, the Local Employment Service, Area Partnership, Centre for the Unemployed or Citizens Information Centre. See also pages 30-41.

Social welfare entitlements

There is a range of payments and supports available to one parent families from the Department of Social and Family Affairs.

These include the universal payment of Child Benefit, and weekly payments such as Widow's/Widower's (Contributory) Pension and the One-Parent Family Payment, which replaced Lone Parent's Allowance and Deserted Wife's Benefit in January 1997.

There are also employment supports such as Family Income Supplement and Back to Work Allowance, see pages 30-41.

In addition, there are extra benefits such as Rent and Mortgage Interest Supplement, Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance, and Fuel Allowance. These benefits are not solely for lone parents.

Child Benefit

Child Benefit is a monthly tax-free payment for each child under age 16 who is normally living with you. It can continue to be paid up to the child's 19th birthday if she/he is still at school or has a physical or mental disability.

It can be paid directly into a bank, building society or post office savings account. Or, it can be paid in book form and collected at your local post office.

Multiple births

Special grants are payable for all multiple births as follows:
· €635 at birth
· €635 at age 4
· €635 at age 12

If you have twins, Child Benefit is paid at one and a half times the normal monthly rate for each twin.

Where the multiple birth involves three or more children, Child Benefit is paid at double the normal rate for each child, provided at least three of the children remain qualified.

One-Parent Family Payment (OFP)

This payment replaced Lone Parent's Allowance and Deserted Wife's Benefit on 2nd January 1997.

If you were already getting Deserted Wife's Benefit or Allowance, or Prisoner's Wife's Allowance, you will continue to receive that payment for the duration of your claim, as long as you satisfy the conditions of the scheme. Please note that if you are getting any of these payments, then the qualifying conditions and means assessment for the One-Parent Family Payment outlined below do not apply to you. If there is a change in your circumstances or if you need any information on your payment, contact the Sligo or Dublin office of the
Department of Social and Family Affairs, see page 17.

If you were getting Lone Parent's Allowance, you were transferred onto One-Parent Family Payment in January 1997 and the most advantageous assessment was used at that time.

What is One-Parent Family Payment?
One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) is for both men and women who, for a variety of reasons, are bringing up a child or children without the support of a partner.

You can apply for this payment if you are unmarried, widowed, a prisoner's spouse, separated, divorced, or your marriage has been annulled and you are no longer living with your spouse.

How to qualify
You will qualify if you:
· Are responsible for the main care of at least one child who is living with you and is under 18 years of age, or under 22 years if in full-time education
· Are not cohabiting, that is, living with someone as husband and wife
· Have earnings of €293.00 or less per week
· Satisfy a means test, see pages 18-25
· Are resident in the State

The following conditions also apply:
· If you are separated or divorced, you must have been separated for at least 3 months and have made appropriate efforts to get maintenance from your spouse. See page 22.
· If you are unmarried, you must be the named parent of a qualified child. Also, you are required to seek maintenance from the other parent of your child after the payment is granted. See page 23.
· If your spouse is in prison, she/he must have been sentenced to prison for a term of at least 6 months, or have been in custody for at least 6 months without being sentenced.

Rate of One-Parent Family Payment

Your payment is made up of a personal rate for yourself and an extra amount for each child dependant. Your personal rate will depend on your means.

The rates of One-Parent Family Payment, effective from 2nd January 2003 are shown on page 102.

How One-Parent Family Payment is paid
One-Parent Family Payment is payable by a number of methods:
· Weekly in arrears by Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) directly into a chosen bank or building society savings account
· Weekly in advance by Electronic Information Transfer (EIT), that is, using a Social Services Card at a chosen post office
· Weekly in advance by a book of payable orders which can be cashed at a chosen post office

How long payment lasts
One-Parent Family Payment is payable for as long as you continue to satisfy the qualifying conditions. The payment stops if you marry or live with someone as husband and wife, or if you no longer have dependent children, or if you go over the income limit.

If, however, you have been receiving One-Parent Family Payment for 52 consecutive weeks and your earnings later exceed €293 per week, your payment will not be stopped immediately. You will be paid half of your One-Parent Family Payment for one year only from the date your earnings increased. Payment then stops completely.

When and how to apply
If you are:
· Widowed, you should apply within 3 months of your spouse's death.
· Unmarried, you should apply within 3 months of the birth of your child.
· Separated or divorced, you should apply within 6 months of the date you separated from your spouse. However, you must be separated 3 months before you are eligible to apply.
· A prisoner's spouse, you should apply within 3 months of becoming eligible. If your spouse is in prison, you become eligible to apply when your spouse has been in custody for at least 6 months without being charged, or starts his/her sentence, which must be for at least 6 months.

To apply for One-Parent Family Payment, complete the application form (OFP 1) and send it with the relevant certificates and documents to:

One-Parent Family Section,
Department of Social and Family Affairs,
Pension Services Office, College Road, Sligo.
Tel : LoCall: 1890 50 00 00
Sligo: (071) 914 8376

If you are living in the Dublin 24 area, please send your application to:
One-Parent Family Section,
Department of Social and Family Affairs,
P.O. Box 8278, Tallaght, Dublin 24.
Tel: (01) 462 9431 / 462 9433

Information booklets, leaflets and application forms are available from any of the following:
· Your local Social Welfare Office
· The internet at www.welfare.ie
· The Department's Leaflet Line at LoCall 1890 20 23 25

Household Budget Scheme
The Household Budget Scheme is available to One-Parent Family Payment recipients who are being paid by Electronic Information Transfer.

This scheme is a free service operated by An Post and gives people an easy-pay option for household bills, for example, gas or ESB bills.
With the use of a direct debit facility, a fixed payment can be made to any of the following:
· Participating local authorities, towards rent or mortgages
· ESB and An Bord Gais for energy and appliance purchase costs
· Eircom in respect of telephone charges

For more details, contact An Post, Freefone 1800 70 71 72.

More information
For further details on One-Parent Family Payment, see information booklet - SW82 - or contact the One-Parent Family Section at the addresses above, or your local Citizens Information Centre, listed in Golden Pages.

Information on Social Welfare Services is also available on AERTEL, RTE's teletext service.

Means test for One-Parent Family Payment (OFP)

Your means are any income you have, or property (except your home), or an asset which could bring in money or provide you with an income.

The main items which count as means are:
· Income from employment or self-employment
· Other cash income, for example a private pension or UK Department of Social Security Pension
· The value of any savings and investments you may have, and the value of any property you have but not your own home
· Maintenance payments including maintenance paid to, or in respect of, a dependent child

Income from Employment or Self-Employment
How are earnings assessed? If you are working, your income from employment or self-employment is assessed as follows:
· The first €146.50 of weekly earnings is completely disregarded. This disregard is designed to make allowances for work-related expenses such as childminding and travel.
· Half of the remainder of your earnings, up to €293.00 per week, is assessed as your means from employment or selfemployment.

Example
A lone parent with one child earns €200 per week with no other income.

€
Gross weekly earnings 200.00
Less weekly disregard 146.50
53.50
Divided by 2 = weekly means 26.75

In 2003, the amount of One-Parent Family Payment payable would be €124.10 per week in this situation after the means have been taken into account.

See rates of social welfare payment at the back of the book, rates effective from 2nd January 2003.

Note: if you are applying for the first time and your weekly earnings are more than €293.00, you will not be entitled to One-Parent Family Payment.

If, however, you have been getting One-Parent Family Payment for 52 consecutive weeks and your earnings exceed €293.00 per week, your payment will not be stopped immediately. You will be paid half of your One-Parent Family Payment for one year only from the date your earnings increased. Payment then stops completely.

Savings and investments

How are savings and investments assessed?
A formula is used to work out your means from any savings, investments and capital you may have.

The following items are added together and then the formula is applied to work out your means:
· Cash value of investments and property, except your home
· Money in savings accounts
· Cash-in-hand

Formula
Capital Weekly means assessed
Up to €12,697.38 Nil
€12,697.38 - €25,394.76 €1.27 per €1,269.74
€25,394.76 - €38,092.14 €2.54 per €1,269.74
Over €38,092.14 €5.08 per €1,269.74

Example
A lone parent with 3 dependent children has savings of €25,394.76 and no other income.

€
Amount of savings 25,394.76
Less first €12,697.38 disregarded 12,697.38
12,697.38
Balance of €12,697.38
at €1.27 per €1,269.74 12.70
Weekly means 12.70

In 2003, the One-Parent Family Payment payable would be €175.20 per week in this situation, after the means have been taken into account. See rates of social welfare payments on page 102.

Maintenance payments
How are maintenance payments assessed?
Any maintenance you receive for yourself and/or your children, whether voluntary or paid because of a court order, is taken into account in
the means test.

However, your housing costs, that is, rent or mortgage repayments, may be disregarded up to a maximum of €95.23 per week. Half of any maintenance over this is counted as means.

Housing costs over €95.23 per week paid by your spouse, or the other parent of your child, on your behalf are also assessed.

Evidence of housing costs must be provided such as rent receipts, rent book or a statement of mortgage payments.

If your spouse or partner pays maintenance directly to the Department of Social and Family Affairs, no maintenance is assessable. However, you do not get the benefit of half the maintenance payable as referred to above. See the section on social welfare and the liability to maintain your family, page 24.

Example
A lone parent with one child receives a total weekly maintenance of €120 per week and pays a mortgage of €60 per week.

Total weekly maintenance 120.00
Less weekly mortgage, as verified by the lending agency 60.00
Gives weekly means of 60.00
Divided by 2 30.00

In 2003, the One-Parent Family Payment payable would be €121.60 per week in this situation, after the means have been taken into account.

Efforts to seek maintenance by a separated or divorced lone parent
If you are separated or divorced from your spouse, you are obliged to make efforts to obtain maintenance from your spouse, as follows, before a decision on entitlement can be made.

Spouse working and current address known
If your spouse is working and you have not succeeded in obtaining maintenance from him/her, you should:

· Provide proof that you and your spouse are involved in structured mediation which includes negotiations about the financial support of yourself and your dependent children, or

· Approach the Local District Court Clerk with a view to taking out a maintenance summons and attach a copy of the maintenance summons to the claim form, or give a copy to the social welfare inspector when he/she calls to interview you. This procedure would also apply if the Department of Social and Family Affairs considers that your spouse is in a position to increase a voluntary maintenance payment.

Whereabouts of spouse unknown
If you do not know the whereabouts of your spouse, you may be required to provide evidence that you have tried to trace your spouse, for instance, proof that you had reported him/her missing to the Gardaν.

If you think your spouse is resident in another country
You may be requested to ask the relevant agency, such as the Department of Social Security in the case of the UK, to help trace your spouse with a view to serving a maintenance summons. Or, you may be asked to initiate proceedings through the Central Authority (the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform) designated in the Maintenance Act 1994, which covers reciprocal maintenance action in the EU
and a number of other countries.

Efforts to seek maintenance by an unmarried lone parent
If you are unmarried, you are not required to make efforts to seek maintenance from the other parent of your child in order to qualify for One-Parent Family Payment. The obligation to seek maintenance is applied after the payment is awarded.

When payment of One-Parent Family Payment is awarded, you will be notified that you are required to make efforts to seek maintenance from the other parent of your child or children and to inform the Department of Social and Family Affairs of the outcome of these efforts.
If you have not already succeeded in obtaining maintenance from the other parent, following the award of the payment of the One-Parent Family Payment, you will be asked by the Department to:

· Name the other parent of the child, if he/she is not already named, and state his/her date of birth, address, PPS Number and current employment if known.

· Contact the other parent and ask him/her to pay maintenance in respect of the child or children.

· Forward a copy of the maintenance summons to the Department, if you have already obtained a maintenance summons.
or, alternatively, to:

· Provide proof that you and the other parent are involved in structured mediation which includes negotiations about the financial support of the dependent child or children. Progress on these efforts will be monitored by the Department.

If such maintenance efforts are not successful and if you have not already obtained or sought a maintenance summons, the Department may require you to approach the Local District Court Clerk with a view to taking out a maintenance summons.

If you do not make such efforts as are reasonably required by the Department of Social and Family Affairs to seek maintenance, you must explain why you are not doing so.

Where you do not co-operate in making efforts to seek maintenance when it would be possible and reasonable to do so, you may be disqualified from receiving One-Parent Family Payment.

Social welfare and the liability to maintain your family
Men and women are required under the law to maintain their dependent spouses, or former spouses in the case of divorce, and dependent children. Those who fail to maintain their spouses and children adequately must contribute to the cost of any One-Parent Family Payment or Supplementary Welfare Allowance which, as a result, is paid to their families.

How does the system operate?
The Maintenance Recovery Section in the Pensions Services Office in Dublin is responsible for implementing the Liability to Maintain Family Provisions. The Section:

· Decides whether a spouse or parent is liable to contribute

· Determines the amount to be contributed

· Makes arrangements for the contributions to be paid

· Takes action, if necessary, to ensure the contributions are paid regularly

· May not assess or pursue financial liability in cases of extreme violence, that is, where a history of domestic violence existed or where a Barring Order was obtained against a former spouse or partner

How much will the liable relative have to contribute?
The financial situation of each liable relative is first assessed in detail. This is usually done at the same time as the One-Parent Family Payment claim is being investigated in the case of separated claimants. In unmarried cases, the liable relative is not interviewed immediately. The assessment is based on the net income of the liable relative.

Allowances are made for any child dependant he/she has, and credit is given for any regular outgoings such as mortgage or rent payments on their current residence or former family home.

The Maintenance Recovery Section determines, by way of a Determination Order, the ability of the person concerned to contribute towards the benefit or allowance, and the amount of weekly contribution due. Determinations can be reviewed where there is new information about, or changes in, the financial or household circumstances of a liable relative. All assessments are explained on an assessment of means sheet
which accompanies each Determination Order. Liable relatives are encouraged to contact the Maintenance Recovery Section directly as this exchange of information often leads to a revised assessment. Following this, maintenance liability may be lower than originally assessed.

A liable relative may appeal to the Social Welfare Appeals Office if he/she is of the opinion that the information used to determine his/her liability was incorrect. An appeal should be lodged within 21 days of being notified of the decision. This office acts independently of the Department of Social and Family Affairs. For further information, contact Social Welfare Appeals Office at LoCall 1890 74 44 34.

How will the contributions be paid?
The Department of Social and Family Affairs seeks weekly payment wherever possible from liable relatives. Payments are made by standing order to the Department's bank account, or directly to:
The Cashier,
Accounts Branch,
Department of Social and Family Affairs,
St. Alphonsus Road, Dundalk, Co Louth.

The health boards are responsible for recovering contributions from the liable relative where a family is living on Supplementary
Welfare Allowance.

For further information, contact:
Maintenance Recovery Section,
Pensions Services Office, Dublin.
Tel: (01) 858 1150

Widow's/Widower's (Contributory) Pension
This payment is for both widows and widowers. It can be based either on your own or your late spouse's PRSI record.
Both records cannot be combined. It is not affected by any other income you might have, for instance, your earnings or a
pension.

If you have dependent children and you don't qualify for this payment, you should apply for One-Parent Family Payment instead.

Deserted Wife's Benefit
Deserted Wife's Benefit (DWB) has been closed to new applicants since 2nd January 1997. However, there are two exceptions to this rule, provided all other conditions are satisfied:

· Women getting Deserted Wife's Benefit, who are disqualified from receiving Deserted Wife's Benefit because they leave the State, can again become entitled to the payment if the period of disqualification does not exceed 12 months.

· Women getting Deserted Wife's Benefit, who cease to become entitled to this payment because they are under age 40 and no longer have a qualified child living with them, can re-apply for Deserted Wife's Benefit on reaching age 40.

Other payments

Basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance
While you are waiting for a decision on your social welfare payment, you should apply for a basic payment under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA) scheme if your means are insufficient to meet your needs and those of your dependants.

Basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance is paid weekly and, in order to get payment, you must:

· Satisfy a means test

· Have applied for any other payments you may be entitled to, for example One-Parent Family Payment

· Be living in the State

Exceptional Needs Payments
These payments can be made under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme to help with essential once-off expenses, for instance, bedding, essential household equipment and other unforeseen large expenses. Payment is made at the discretion of the health board.

Rent and Mortgage Interest Supplement
If you have difficulty paying your rent or mortgage and you are getting a social welfare or health board payment, you may qualify for a Rent or Mortgage Interest Supplement from the Community Welfare Officer at your local health centre.

In the case of a mortgage, you can get help with the interest portion of your repayment. The mortgage must have been taken out when you were in a position to repay it.

Rent and Mortgage Interest Supplements are normally calculated to ensure that a person, after the payment of rent or mortgage interest, has an income equal to the rate of Supplementary Welfare Allowance appropriate to their family circumstances; this is less a minimum contribution (currently €12), which recipients are required to pay from their own resources. In addition to the minimum contribution, applicants are required to contribute towards their rent any additional assessable means that they have over and above the appropriate Basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance rate.

Any change in household income may affect the amount of supplement payable. Therefore before you take up employment or take up a place on an approved training or employment scheme, you should contact the Community Welfare Officer at your local health centre to see how the change in your circumstances affects your Rent or Mortgage Interest Supplement.

Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance
This allowance is paid by the health boards from June to September each year and is intended to help towards the cost of school uniforms and footwear at the beginning of the school year. It is payable for children aged 2 to 17, and 18 to 22 if the child is in full-time education.
To get the allowance, you must be receiving a qualifying payment, such as One-Parent Family Payment, and your income must be below a certain level. Application forms are available from the Community Welfare Officer at your local health centre.

Fuel Allowance
If you are getting a social welfare or health board payment, you may be eligible for a weekly Free Fuel Allowance (currently €9) from mid-October to mid-April. This is a means-tested payment and is subject to household circumstances. Apply to the section of the Department of Social and Family Affairs, or health board, from which you receive your payment.

An additional weekly Smokeless Fuel Allowance (currently €3.90) is payable to help with the extra cost of using smokeless fuel in certain urban areas where the sale of bituminous fuel is banned. These are: Arklow, Celbridge, Cork, Drogheda, Dublin, Dundalk, Galway City, Leixlip, Limerick, Naas, Waterford City and Wexford. From October 2003, Bray, Kilkenny, Sligo and Tralee will also be included.

School meals
The School Meals Scheme, which provides free meals to approximately 60,000 primary school children in 400 schools, will be extended in autumn 2003 to include secondary schools and further primary schools, with disadvantaged schools being prioritised.

Appeals

Social welfare appeals
If you are unhappy with a decision of the Department of Social and Family Affairs concerning your entitlements, you can appeal to the Social Welfare Appeals Office - see address below. This office acts independently of the Department of Social and Family Affairs.

You should appeal within 21 days of being notified of the decision.

You can appeal by completing a form SWAO 1 (available from your local Social Welfare Office), or you can set out the grounds for your appeal fully in a letter to the Appeals Office.

An Appeals Officer may be able to deal with your appeal on the basis of the written evidence she/he has received, or she/he may decide to hold an oral hearing of your case. You will be notified of the Appeals Officer's decision in writing.

For further information, contact:
Social Welfare Appeals Office,
D'Olier House, D'Olier Street, Dublin 2.
Tel: LoCall 1890 74 44 34
Email: swappeals@welfare.ie

Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA) Appeals
This includes Basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance, Rent and Mortgage Interest Supplement, and Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance.

Firstly, you should contact your Community Welfare Officer and ask why your application has failed and if there is any further information you could give to enable him/her to reconsider your application.

If you are still unhappy with the decision, you should then appeal in writing to the Appeals Officer of the health board stating why you think the decision is unfair.

People who are dissatisfied with certain decisions made by the appeals official of the health board can apply to have an appeal submitted to the Social Welfare Appeals Office.


Employment supports

This section contains information on the various supports and schemes for people who are either in the workforce, or considering returning to work.

Taking up a job
If you take up a job, except in the circumstances below, it will affect your One-Parent Family Payment. However, you can earn
up to €146.50 gross per week and keep your full payment. Earnings between €146.50 and €293 will cause a reduction in your One-Parent Family Payment, see page 19.

You will pay tax on all your income, that is, job income and One-Parent Family Payment. However, you may be entitled to extra tax credits under the Revenue Job Assist scheme, see below. Sometimes, the Back to Work Allowance Scheme is more beneficial.

You may qualify for Family Income Supplement.

You will only keep secondary benefits if your earnings and One-Parent Family Payment together are below the income limits for a medical card, Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance, and so on.

You will keep your Fuel Allowance, as long as you are being paid One-Parent Family Payment. However, you may lose your Rent or Mortgage Interest Supplement depending on how much you earn.

If you are working part-time, the first €50 of earnings is disregarded when assessing income for Rent or Mortgage Interest Supplement. If you are working full-time, your Rent or Mortgage Interest Supplement will be tapered.

Family Income Supplement (FIS) after taking up a job
If you are working at least 19 hours per week (38 hours a fortnight) with one or more dependent children, you may be entitled to Family Income Supplement. Your income must be below the limit for your family size.

Family Income Supplement does not apply if you are selfemployed or on certain government schemes, for instance, Community
Employment. However, you can apply if you are on the Back to Work Allowance (as an employee only), Job Initiative or Part-Time Job Incentive Scheme.

How much is Family Income Supplement?
The amount of Family Income Supplement you get is 60% of the difference between your family income and the income limit for your
family size. For rates of payment, see page 103.

What counts as family income
Your family income is:
· Your net pay, that is, your gross pay less tax, employee PRSI, health contribution and superannuation
· Any extra income from employment, for instance, overtime, bonuses, commission
· Any other income, for instance, from maintenance, self-employment or an occupational pension
· Any social welfare payment, for example, One-Parent Family Payment, Back to Work Allowance, except the following:
- Child Benefit
- Carer's Allowance
- Orphan's Allowance or Pension
· Any health board payment except the following:
- Supplementary Welfare Allowance
- Domiciliary Care Allowance
- Foster Child Allowance
The following are not taken into account:
· A certain amount of income from casual employment by a health board as a home help
· Rent Allowance for tenants affected by the de-control of rents
· Unearned income, for instance, income from property or rent of land

Family Income Supplement and maintenance payments
If you are receiving maintenance for a child, it is not assessed as income. You must be able to show documentary evidence of
this maintenance.

If you are paying maintenance in respect of children from your first family, this will not be assessed as income for a Family Income Supplement claim you make in respect of that family. However, the other parent must not be receiving One-Parent Family Payment for this to apply. You must be able to show documentary evidence of this maintenance.

If you are paying maintenance for children from your first family, this will not be assessed as income for a Family Income Supplement claim in respect of your second family. You must be able to show documentary evidence of this maintenance.

Secondary benefits
If you are getting Family Income Supplement, you may also be entitled to:
· Smokeless Fuel Allowance.
· Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance, see page 27. This scheme is administered by the health boards. Make further enquiries at your local health centre.
· A medical card. Family Income Supplement is not taken into account for medical card purposes and does not affect your entitlement.

Tax and PRSI contributions
You do not pay tax or PRSI on your Family Income Supplement payment. However your wages and One-Parent Family Payment
are taxable.

When and how do I apply?
If you are taking up work and think you will be eligible for Family Income Supplement, you should apply as soon as you take up the job. You should do this even if you cannot complete the full details on the claim form. That way you will avoid any loss of the Supplement.

To apply, complete claim form FIS1, available from your Social Welfare Local Office or post office, and send it with:
· Your latest P60
· Two recent payslips
· A copy of your Tax Credit Certificate for the current tax year

Send the completed form to:
Family Income Supplement Section,
Social Welfare Services Office, Government Buildings,
Ballinalee Road, Longford.
Tel: (043) 45211 or (01) 704 3000

Back to Work Allowance (BTWA)
The Back to Work Allowance aims to assist and encourage lone parents, among others, to take up employment. A person participating in this scheme retains a percentage of their social welfare payment along with any secondary benefits they may already have for a period of up to 3 years. It is subject to certain conditions.

The job you are taking up must be:
· For a minimum of 20 hours a week
· Capable of lasting at least 12 months
· Likely to develop into a lasting job

You may qualify if you are a lone parent who has been receiving One-Parent Family Payment or Deserted Wife's Benefit or Allowance for 15 months, or 12 months if aged 50 or over.

Note: periods spent on FΑS, CERT, TEAGASC, Fastrack to Information Technology (FIT), Community Employment or Back to Education Schemes are accepted as qualifying periods.

Important: employees must apply before commencing work.

How much do I get?
Participants in the scheme will receive support for 3 years, including child dependant allowances, as follows:
· 75% of current weekly social welfare payment for the first year
· 50% for the second year
· 25% for the third year

Secondary benefits
Any secondary benefits you already have, you may keep for the 3 years provided that the household income is less than €317.43 gross per week. Your gross income is your income before tax, but does not include Back to Work Allowance or Family Income Supplement. You may be entitled to all or some of the secondary benefits outlined below.

From Regional Health Boards:
· Medical card, the income limit of €317.43 does not apply

· Rent or Mortgage Interest Supplement, which is withdrawn on a tapered basis over four years - 75% for the first year, 50% for the second year, 25% for the third year and 25% for the fourth year

· Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance, see page 27 From the Department of Social and Family Affairs:

· Fuel Allowance

· Christmas Bonus

Check with your Community Welfare Office to see if your Rent or Mortgage Interest Supplement may be affected.

Additional supports
Further assistance is available for those who qualify for the Back to Work Allowance, for instance, help with interviews, literacy or computer skills. Further information is available from the Jobs Facilitator at your Social Welfare Local Office.

Tax and PRSI
The Back to Work Allowance is not subject to PRSI or income tax deductions. You pay tax and PRSI on your wages.

When and how do I apply?
Check with the Jobs Facilitator in your Social Welfare Local Office to see if you are eligible. If you are eligible and wish to take up an opportunity to work under this scheme, you should complete and return application form BTWA before you commence work, see the address below. Fourteen days notice must be given before employment commences. If your employment ends or you wish to change
employers, you must contact the Department of Social and Family Affairs immediately.

Contact:
Employment Support Services,
Department of Social and Family Affairs,
PO Box 3840, Dublin 2.
Tel: (01) 704 3165

Back to Work Enterprise Allowance (BTWEA)

The Back to Work Enterprise Allowance helps lone parents, among others, to become self-employed. People participating in this scheme retain a percentage of their social welfare payment along with any secondary benefits (subject to certain conditions) for a period of up to 4 years.

Will I qualify?
You may qualify if you are a lone parent who has been receiving One-Parent Family Payment or Deserted Wife's Benefit or Allowance for 12 months. You must be setting up a business in which you will be self-employed and which has been approved by a Partnership Company or a Jobs Facilitator in writing, in advance.

Note: periods spent on FΑS, CERT, TEAGASC, Fastrack to Information Technology (FIT), Community Employment, Social Economy Programme or Back to Education Schemes are accepted as qualifying periods.

How much do I get?
Participants in the scheme will receive support for 4 years including child dependant allowances, as follows: 100% of your current weekly social welfare payment for the first year, 75% for the second year, 50% for the third year and 25% for the fourth year.

Secondary benefits
Any secondary benefits you already have, you may keep for the 4 years provided that the household income is less than €317.43 gross per week. Your gross income is your income before tax, but does not include Back to Work Enterprise Allowance. You may be entitled to all or some of the secondary benefits outlined below.

From Regional Health Boards:

· Medical card, the income limit of €317.43 does not apply

· Rent or Mortgage Interest Supplement, which is withdrawn on a tapered basis over four years - 75% for the first year, 50% for the second year, 25% for the third year and 25% for the fourth year

· Diet supplement
· Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance, see page 27 From the Department of Social and Family Affairs:

· Fuel Allowance

· Christmas Bonus

Check with your Community Welfare Office to see if your Rent or Mortgage Interest Supplement may be affected.

Tax and PRSI
The Back to Work Enterprise Allowance is not subject to PRSI or income tax deductions. You will be paying tax and PRSI on earnings, see pages 49-55.

When and how do I apply?
Contact the Jobs Facilitator at your Social Welfare Local Office or Employment Support Services, Tel: (01) 704 3165. If you live in a Partnership Area, you will need to have your application approved by the Partnership. Contact your local Citizens Information Centre for further details on this.

Revenue Job Assist
Revenue Job Assist is a scheme administered by the Revenue Commissioners. Under this scheme, you can receive an additional tax credit when you take up a job. You must have been receiving One-Parent Family Payment for one year or more. Your employer will also receive additional tax relief. The additional tax credit is available for a three-year period on a tapered basis as follows:

Extra Personal Extra Tax Credit
Tax Credit for each qualifying child
Year 1 €762.00 €254.00
Year 2 €508.00 €169.20
Year 3 €254.00 €84.80

The above tax credits should be added to your ordinary tax credits. To work out how much income tax you will pay, see pages 49-50. The tax credit can only be set against income from the new job that has been taken up. An employee can change jobs once and retain the balance of their credit.

The job you are taking up must be for a minimum of 30 hours a week and be capable of lasting at least 12 months.

Will I qualify?
You may qualify if you have been receiving the One-Parent Family Payment for 12 months or more. Periods spent on certain employment and education schemes are accepted as qualifying periods.

Note: to find out whether Revenue Job Assist or the Back to Work Allowance Scheme is the better option for you, contact the Jobs Facilitator in your Social Welfare Local Office, the Local Employment Service, your local Citizens Information Centre, or your local Centre for the Unemployed.

Secondary benefits
Any secondary benefits you already have, you may keep for 3 years if the weekly household income is less than €317.43 gross per week. Your gross income is your income before tax, but does not include Family Income Supplement. You may be entitled to all or some of the secondary benefits outlined below.

From Regional Health Boards:
· Medical card, the income limit of €317.43 does not apply

· Rent or Mortgage Interest Supplement which is withdrawn on a tapered basis over four years - 75% for the first year, 50% for the second year, 25% for the third year and 25% for the fourth year

· Diet supplement

· Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance, see page 27

From the Department of Social and Family Affairs:

· Fuel Allowance

· Christmas Bonus

Check with your Community Welfare Office to see if your Rent or Mortgage Interest Supplement may be affected.

When and how do I apply?
You should fill out Part 1 of form RJA1; this can be obtained from your local tax office, or by telephoning Revenue Enquiries on 1890 60 50 90, or by downloading the form on the Revenue website at http://www.revenue.ie/ Community Employment (CE) Schemes

These schemes are supported by FΑS and provide part-time employment to long-term unemployed people; this includes people who have been receiving One-Parent Family Payment for one year or longer. People on Community Employment Schemes work for an average of 19.5 hours per week.

Community Employment projects are run by local sponsors who may be from the non-profit voluntary sector or community groups. The type of work varies considerably from project to project. Jobs are advertised in FΑS and Local Employment Services (LES) offices and you can apply from there, or directly to the place of employment. Community Employment is divided into two options that have different
eligibility criteria and conditions.

Part-Time Integration Option
This scheme is for one year. However, for those who are experiencing difficulty in obtaining employment, FΑS has the flexibility to offer a further period of participation of up to one more year.

Will I qualify?
You may qualify if you are 25 years of age or over and have been receiving One-Parent Family Payment or a Widow's or Widower's Payment for one year or longer.

Part-Time Job Option
This scheme can last for up to three years.

Will I qualify?
You may qualify if you are 35 years of age or over and have been receiving One-Parent Family Payment, Deserted Wife's Benefit, or a Widow's/Widower's (Contributory) Pension for three years or longer.

Note: periods spent on recognised training or employment programmes are accepted as qualifying periods.

Secondary benefits for both options
You will retain all the secondary benefits you were receiving immediately before going into Community Employment provided your total income is below €317.43 per week. Income includes your Community Employment wage, plus any social welfare payment, and/or wages from other part-time work.

You will keep your medical card; the income limit of €317.43 does not apply.

Family Income Supplement is not payable to those on Community Employment.

Rent or Mortgage Interest Supplement is withdrawn on a tapered basis over four years, as follows: 75% for the first year, 50% for the second year, 25% for the third year, and 25% for the fourth year.

Check with your Community Welfare Officer as to how your Rent or Mortgage Interest Supplement may be affected.

Community Employment may be considered as part-time employment in calculating rent supplement. Community Welfare Officers will assess an individual by means of the part-time income disregard of €50 or by tapering their rent supplement, whichever is the more favourable to the individual.

How much do I get?
The basic rate of payment on a Community Employment Scheme is €143.20 per week, plus an additional payment of €16.80 per week for each child (2003 figures). Earnings from Community Employment will be assessed in the normal way as income for One-Parent Family
Payment, see page 19.

Tax and PRSI
Both Community Employment payments and One-Parent Family Payment are taxable at the normal rate.

Where do I apply?
Contact your local FΑS office.

Job Initiative
The Job Initiative Scheme is designed to provide full-time work for individuals who have not had regular employment in the last five years. The jobs provided are, for example, in local community organisations, voluntary organisations or public bodies. The Job Initiative programme operates in all 38 Area Partnerships.

Will I qualify?
You may qualify if you are over 35 years of age, unemployed, and have been receiving One-Parent Family Payment for at least five years.
How much do I get? You will get your wage from employment, and your earnings will be assessed in the usual way for the One-Parent Family Payment, see page 19. You may qualify for Family Income Supplement, see pages 30-33. There is some funding available for training.

Secondary benefits
You will keep any secondary benefits you already have if the household income is less than €317.43 gross per week. Your gross income is your income before tax, but does not include Family Income Supplement. You may be entitled to all or some of the secondary benefits outlined below.

From Regional Health Boards:
· Medical card, the income limit of €317.43 does not apply

· Rent or Mortgage Interest Supplement which is withdrawn on a tapered basis over four years - 75% for the first year, 50% for the second year, 25% for the third year and 25% for the fourth year

· Diet supplement

· Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance, see page 27

From the Department of Social and Family Affairs:
· Fuel Allowance
· Christmas Bonus

Check with your Community Welfare Office to see if your Rent or Mortgage Interest Supplement may be affected.

Tax and PRSI
All your income will be taxed, but you may qualify for Revenue Job Assist. You will pay PRSI on Job Initiative income.

When and how do I apply?
If you live in a Partnership Area and are interested in applying for one of these jobs, contact your local Employment Services (LES) office, FΑS office or Centre for the Unemployed.

Education options

This section contains information on the educational and training opportunities that are available to lone parents. Help with child care costs is available on some of the schemes described below.

Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS)

Must I be a certain age?
You must be at least 21 years of age.

Which college?
Your local VEC (Vocational Education Committee).

What payments will I receive?
You will receive the VTOS Allowance which is equal to the maximum rate of One-Parent Family Payment. A travel and meal allowance may also be payable. And you may also be entitled to an additional training allowance of €31.80 if you were previously getting One-Parent Family Payment for 12 months or more.

You may keep all your secondary benefits such as rent supplement, medical card, and so on. Contact your Community Welfare Officer to
check how your Rent or Mortgage Interest Supplement may be affected.

Some child care may be available. Maintenance payments do not affect VTOS allowances.

How long must I have been receiving One-Parent Family Payment?
You must have been receiving One-Parent Family Payment or Widow's/Widowers (Contributory) Pension for at least 6 months. Periods spent on certain training and employment schemes can count towards the 6 months qualifying period.

Type of course: The course must be full time and lead to a certificate recognised by the Department of Education and Science or approved by FETAC, for instance, Junior or Leaving Cert, PLC, or City and Guilds. You may take part in a Voluntary Training Opportunities Scheme for 2 years only.

Who should I contact?
The Adult Education Organiser in your local VEC, or the Jobs Facilitator in your Social Welfare Local office.
Back to Education Allowance

Must I be a certain age?
If you are between 18 and 20, you must have been out of formal education for 2 years. Otherwise, you must be at least 21 years old, or 24 for an approved post-graduate qualification.

Which college?
Any publicly funded second-level community, comprehensive, vocational or secondary school. Any publicly funded third level institution.

What payments will I receive?
You will receive the Back to Education Allowance which is equal to the maximum rate of One-Parent Family Payment. You can keep all your secondary benefits such as rent supplement, medical card, and so on. A Cost of Education Allowance of €254 is payable at the start of the academic year. Maintenance payments do not affect the Back to Education Allowance.

How long must I have been receiving One-Parent Family Payment?
You must have been receiving One-Parent Family Payment or Widow's/Widowers Contributory Pension for at least 6 months. Periods spent on certain training and employment schemes can count towards the 6 months qualifying period.

Type of course: The course must be full time and lead to a certificate recognised by the Department of Education and Science or approved by FETAC, for instance:

· Junior or Leaving Cert, PLC or City and Guilds
· Any undergraduate course or, in certain circumstances, postgraduate courses, in publicly funded institutions
· 1 year Trinity Access programme
· 1 year full-time day Foundation Course at third level
· Certain courses run by Failte Ireland (formerly CERT)
· Certain BTEC and HND courses (NI)

Courses in the UK or Northern Ireland may also be recognised.

Who should I contact?
The Jobs Facilitator in your Social Welfare Local office, or the college you wish to attend. Area based partnerships, your local VEC, and Local Employment Services will be willing to help.

Youthreach

Must I be a certain age?
You must be aged between 15 and 20, and have been out of school for 6 months or more without formal qualifications.

Which college?
Youthreach Centres, Community Training Workshops or Senior Traveller Training Centres.

What payments will I receive?
You will keep your current rate of One-Parent Family Payment. A training allowance is paid. Rent supplement may be affected by the training allowance. You can keep your medical card. Some child care may be available.

How long must I have been receiving One-Parent Family Payment?
There is no requirement.

Type of course: 2 year full-time programme which includes basic skills training, practical work experience, general education, specific skills training and work placements. Training usually leads to Junior Cert, Leaving Cert Applied, City and Guilds or FETAC qualification.

Who should I contact?
Local Youthreach Co-ordinator or National Co-ordinator
Tel: (01) 453 5487
Website: www.youthreach.ie

Home Tuition Scheme

Must I be a certain age?
You must be school-going
.
Which college?
Your school must be a publicly funded secondlevelcommunity, comprehensive, vocational or secondary school.

What payments will I receive?
It will not affect your One-Parent Family Payment.

How long must I have been receiving One-Parent Family Payment?
You can avail of this when you are pregnant.

Type of course: The Home Tuition Scheme provides a grant for tuition at home to pregnant schoolgirls who are pupils at recognised schools. Tuition is provided during the time immediately before or after the birth of the baby, when attending school may not be practical. The Department of Education and Science pays a grant for 9 hours tuition per week for a period of 10 weeks.

Who should I contact?
Your school principal, or Department of Education and Science, Tel: (0506) 21363.

Education, training and development courses
Must I be a certain age? You must be at least 21 years old. Or, if you are between 18 and 20, you must have been out of formal
education for 2 years.

Which college?
Courses must be provided by a voluntary or community group to help the employability of the participants.

What payments will I receive?
You will keep your current rate of One-Parent Family Payment and may be eligible for a payment of €31.80 towards travel, meals, and so on. You may keep all your secondary benefits such as rent supplement and medical card. Contact your Community Welfare Officer to check
how your Rent or Mortgage Interest Supplement may be affected.

How long must I have been receiving One-Parent Family Payment?
You must have been receiving One-Parent Family Payment for 6 months. Periods spent on Voluntary Training Opportunities Schemes, FΑS, Community Employment, Back to Work Allowance, Job Initiative or Youthreach do not count as part of the qualifying period.

Type of course: These are courses which are not covered under the Back to Education Allowance. The courses must clearly improve your employment prospects. Examples vary from personal development and basic education to general training or specific job skills. Courses must be wholly or partly funded by a state agency or Area Partnership Company.

Who should I contact? The Jobs Facilitator in your Social Welfare Local Office.

Maternity leave and payments

Employees may be entitled to leave while pregnant and immediately after giving birth. They are then entitled to return to work on broadly similar conditions to those they enjoyed before the leave. There is no automatic entitlement to pay during leave but most employees would qualify for a social welfare payment.

Ante-natal and post-natal medical check-ups
Once the pregnancy is confirmed, there is an entitlement to take paid time off during normal working time for medical visits connected with the pregnancy, but not for ante-natal classes.

There is a similar entitlement for medical visits after the birth. The entitlement lasts for 14 weeks following the birth, including any period taken on maternity leave following the birth.

Maternity leave
The basic period of maternity leave is 18 weeks; 4 weeks of this has to be taken before the end of the week of the expected date of the birth, and 4 weeks after. How the remaining 10 weeks are taken is a matter for the employee to decide. The usual practice is for employees to take 4 weeks before the birth, and 14 weeks after. Up to 8 weeks additional unpaid leave may be taken. This is not covered by the Department of
Social and Family Affairs Maternity Benefit payment.

Payment during pregnancy
Maternity Benefit is based on a rate of 70% of the employee's gross earnings subject to a minimum and maximum payment.

It is also payable to self-employed women. There are qualifying conditions. It is paid for 18 weeks, see page 103.

The right to return to work after maternity leave
An employee has the right to return to her job after maternity leave, but at least 4 weeks written notice of the intention to return should be given to the employer. Normally, the employee should return to the job that she had before going on leave.

However, the Maternity Protection Act 1994 states that if it is not reasonably practicable for the employer to allow the employee to return to her job, then the employer must provide the employee with suitable alternative work. This new position should not be on terms substantially less favourable than the terms of the previous job.

Proposed changes
The Maternity Protection (Amendment) Bill 2003 proposes to improve maternity entitlements including the right to paid time off to attend ante-natal classes. It is expected to be enacted during 2003.

Further information
Employment Rights Explained - Comhairle 2003
About the Maternity Protection Act 1994 - Equality Authority

Parental leave
The Parental Leave Act 1998 allows each parent to take unpaid leave in respect of children born or adopted after 3rd June 1996. Normally, the child must be under 5 years of age. Parental leave is available for each child and amounts to 14 weeks per child.

Who can take parental leave
Employees with one year's service are entitled to take full parental leave. However an employee with less than one year's service, but more than 3 months, may be allowed a reduced leave entitlement.

Further information
About the Parental Leave Act 1998 - Equality Authority

Tax

A lone parent may be:
· A widow or widower
· An unmarried parent
· A separated or divorced spouse

The tax position of each is slightly different, and may also be affected if you are receiving or paying maintenance. The following information may help you to check out your own situation with the tax office or local information centre. Some Citizens Information Centres have a free financial service, FISC, operated by chartered accountants where you can get free specialist advice and information; or, you can write to FISC at 87/89 Pembroke Road, Dublin 4, no callers. There is a general tax information service provided by the Revenue
Commissioners which is very helpful, Tel: LoCall 1890 60 50 90.

A child dependant for tax purposes is under 18 years or in fulltime education, including certain training courses. There are no general tax credits for children but there is a tax credit for children with disabilities, for which there is no age limit.

Tax credits and calculating your liability
Virtually all tax relief is now given in the form of tax credits. Certain items remain as tax-free allowances: pension contributions, contributions to an approved permanent health benefit scheme, and the allowance for the employment of a housekeeper for an incapacitated (disabled) family member. Tax-free allowances are deducted from your income before your tax is assessed.

You will find information on the tax credits for the year 2003 on pages 104-105.

In the tax credit system, your income is assessed for tax and the amount is then reduced by the amount of the tax credits to which you are entitled. So, to calculate your tax liability:

a Take your total income after you pay your superannuation contributions and after any other allowances you may have, as above.

b Apply the standard rate of tax (20% in 2003) to the appropriate standard rate band which is given on your Certificate of Tax Credits. The standard rate band which is appropriate to you depends on whether you are single, widowed, part of a one-income married couple, part of a two-income married couple, or a lone parent.

c Apply the top rate of tax (42% in 2003) to the rest of your income.

d Add b and c.

e Subtract the tax credits to which you are entitled; this leaves you with the amount of tax that you have to pay.

Tax credits for mortgage interest and for private health insurance are granted at source. This means that your mortgage repayments and your payments to the private health insurance company are reduced by the value of the tax credits and you don't get any further credit for them.

If you are in private rented accommodation, you may be entitled to claim a tax credit on the rent paid.

Widow or widower with dependent children

In the 2003 tax year, you pay 20% on the first €32,000 of your taxable income and 42% on the rest.

You then reduce this by the amount of the credits to which you are entitled. The personal tax credits to which you are entitled are the widowed credit of €1,820 and the One Parent Family Tax credit of €1,220 (in 2003).

In the first five years after the year of death of a spouse, special additional tax credits are granted to widows or widowers with dependent children. See page 105.

Unmarried parent with dependent children

In the 2003 tax year, you pay 20% on the first €28,000 of your taxable income, and 42% on the rest.

You then reduce this by the amount of the credits to which you are entitled. The personal tax credits to which you are entitled are the single person credit of €1,520 (in 2003), and a One Parent Family Tax Credit of €1,520 (in 2003).

If you get maintenance for your child, you are not liable for tax on this maintenance because it will already have been taxed.

If you are paying child maintenance, you cannot claim tax relief on it as there are no tax credits or allowances for children, unless they have a disability.

Separated parents with dependent children

Separated couples can be treated either as single people for tax purposes, known as single assessment, or as married people, known as joint assessment. Divorced couples where neither has remarried have the same options. If you remarry, then the options for joint and separate assessment are no longer available; you are taxed as a married person together with the new spouse and your former spouse is taxed as a single person.

The decision on which is the better option depends on your exact financial situation. For example, if one of the couple has no separate income, then joint assessment is usually the better option. If each has an income, then the decision depends on the relative amounts of income and whether one or both would qualify for a One Parent Family Tax Credit or for a Home Carer's Tax Credit.

Single assessment
If you opt for single assessment, you may get the One Parent Family Tax Credit. This gives you the same tax credits as a married couple. It is possible for both parents to get the One Parent Family Tax Credit if the child sometimes stays overnight with the parent who has not got custody. This can sometimes make single assessment more advantageous than joint assessment. You do not get the Home Carer's Tax Credit. Each parent gets the single tax band.

Joint assessment

It is sometimes better to opt for joint assessment in order to make the most of your credits and of the married tax band, for instance, if one person has a much higher income than the other. Both must be resident in the State to opt for this.

For joint assessment, both of you can notify the Inspector of Taxes in writing that you want to be treated as if still living together. Maintenance payments are ignored. The married standard-rate tax band to which you are jointly entitled depends on whether one or both have an income, and the amount of that income. You need to have a separation agreement to take this option.

The Revenue Commissioners will tax you as a single person if they are aware that you are separated and living apart without a court order or Deed of Separation.

The first €37,000 of your income is taxed at 20% if you have one income. Two-income married couples may get the full €56,000 standard rate band if each earns at least €19,000. If one earns less than this, the standard rate band for them is the amount earned by that person, plus €37,000.

Each spouse gets an equal share of the married credits and pays his/her own tax. You may get the Home Carer's Tax Credit, maximum €770, if you are caring for the children and you have an income in your own right of less than €5,080. If your income is between this and €6,620, you may get some of the credit.

Voluntary maintenance where the spouses live apart
If you pay maintenance, you do not deduct the maintenance for tax purposes. However, if you can show that your spouse is wholly or mainly maintained by you, you may get the married credits. Again, you need to be able to show a separation agreement.

Effect of maintenance payments
If you opt for joint assessment, then maintenance payments have no effect on the calulation of tax due. If you opt for single assessment, you deduct any maintenance payments made to your spouse and pay tax on the rest of your income.

Those maintenance payments are then taxed as your spouse's income, together with any other income he/she may have. You pay tax in the normal way on any maintenance payments you make in respect of your children.

If your main income is from maintenance, you may be liable to pay PRSI as a class S self-employed contributor. However if you have income from earnings, your maintenance is not liable for PRSI.

There are special tax arrangements for the year in which you separate.

Divorced parents
The Family Law (Divorce) Act 1996 allows for couples who obtain a Decree of Divorce to opt for joint assessment for income tax purposes similar to separated couples, provided that both are resident in the state and neither spouse has remarried. See page 52 for further information on joint assessment.

If you choose single assessment for tax purposes, any maintenance paid on foot of a court order arising from divorce is subject to tax in the same way as it is for separated couples. The spouse who pays the maintenance can claim tax relief on the payments made for the other spouse. The spouse who receives the maintenance is then liable to pay tax on this amount, as it is regarded as taxable income. You cannot claim tax relief on maintenance payments made for your children. See page 51 for further information on single assessment.

Where a couple divorce, any transfer of assets arising from a court order on the divorce will be exempt from Capital Acquistions Tax (CAT) on gifts and inheritances, and Capital Gains Tax (CGT). However, any transfer which is not on foot of a court order and made after the divorce will not be exempt. There is generally no Capital Gains Tax on the sale of someone's principal private residence. If, however, one spouse has left the home some years before the sale, then Capital Gains Tax may be payable on that spouse's share of the proceeds.

If you remarry, then the options for joint and separate assessment are no longer available; you will be taxed as a married person together with the new spouse, and your former spouse will be taxed as a single person.

Cohabitation and liability for inheritance tax
Other taxes are in general outside the scope of this booklet, but there is one provision which is worth highlighting here.

This provision is particularly important for several groups of people, including cohabitees and children or siblings of the deceased.

Under certain circumstances, there is no Capital Acquisitions Tax on a gift or inheritance of a family home. This applies if:

· The house was the principal private residence of the deceased person or the recipient, and

· The recipient lived in the house for the three years prior to the transfer of the property by inheritance or gift, and

· The recipient does not have an interest in any other residential property, and

· The recipient owns and lives in the house for 6 years after the transfer.

However, this last condition does not apply to recipients who are aged over 55. Provisions are also made for those recipients who are unable to comply with this condition because of work commitments or illness.

There is no gift or inheritance tax between spouses.

Tax tips
Keep all your documents together and keep photocopies of those you send away.

Check your taxes each year; you may be entitled to some refunds and you'll avoid underpayments.

Keep all medical receipts as you may be able to claim a tax rebate on Form MED1 for expenses not refundable from any other source. You can also claim certain non-routine dental expenses; check with your dentist.

Contact your tax office about a special tax credit for child dependants with disabilities, that is, the Incapacitated Child Tax Credit.

Exemption limits
Exemption limits are limits below which no tax is payable.
They are not the same as tax credits. There are different limits for people aged under and over 65, and there are extra amounts for dependent children. Exemption limits are particularly important for those aged 65 or over but now virtually irrelevant for people aged under 65. For current limits, see page 105.

Health

Information on child care and family support services can be obtained from your local health board. You should feel free to contact the public health nurse and social worker for your area.

Public health nurses have special responsibility for babies and young children in the community. It is a good idea to visit your local health centre and talk to the nurse about the services which are available. These cover immunisations, health checks, dental and optical services, and much more. These services are free. If you need help with requirements for your baby, that is, food or clothing, the public health nurse may help you to get these through the Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme; this scheme is administered by the Community Welfare Officer at your local health centre, see other payments on page 26.

A Mother and Infant Care Service is available to all women, free of charge. It includes the services of a family doctor during pregnancy and for up to six weeks after the baby is born.

The Community Mothers Scheme operated by many health boards is another source of good support.

Medical cards

Medical cards entitle you to free GP services, prescriptions, and in-patient and out-patient hospital services. To get a medical card, you apply on your local health board application form giving an account of your means. There are income guidelines for deciding whether a person qualifies for a medical card or not; these guidelines are set each January. You can see the current guidelines at your health centre or at your local Citizens Information Centre. Check Golden Pages for a list of Citizens Information Centres.

Lone parents with dependent children are considered under the same income guidelines as a married couple with dependants.

Example

Lone parent with one child under 16
Guideline figure for 2003 €200
Each child under 16 years €25
Total €225

Any rent or mortgage payment over €25 per week can be added to the income guideline as can travelling expenses to work over €22 per week.

There is a slightly higher allowance of €26 for a child over 16 years. People aged 16-25 who are financially dependent on their parents will be entitled to a medical card in their own right if their parents are medical card holders. The health board will decide whether someone is financially dependent or independent, but full-time students would normally be regarded as dependent.

Lone parents may keep their medical card for three years after starting work if they have been on an unemployment payment, or on One-Parent Family Payment for 12 months.

Certain people may qualify for medical cards under EU Regulations, regardless of the income limits.

If you don't have a medical card
You are entitled to free hospital services, both in-patient and out-patient. However, there is an in-patient charge of €40 per day, up to a maximum of €400 in a 12-month period (in 2003). There is also normally a charge of €40 if you go to the outpatients, accident and emergency or casualty department of a public hospital without being referred there by your GP. This will only apply to the first visit for any medical condition. These charges do not apply to a number of groups including women who are receiving maternity services - this also
applies for the first 6 weeks after the birth.

Assistance with the cost of drugs
The cost of prescribed drugs to an individual or family is limited to a maximum of €70 each month (in 2003) under the Drugs Payment Scheme. Family expenditure covers the nominated adult, his or her spouse or partner, and children under 18 years, or under 23 years if in full-time education. You should register with your local health board for this scheme.

It is also possible to claim tax relief on medical expenses over a certain threshold, including GP charges - get Form Med 1 from your local tax office.

Crisis pregnancy
If you are worried about being pregnant, you could contact one of the agencies listed on pages 115-116. Many family doctors also provide services for women with unplanned pregnancies and can offer support and help.

By making a counselling appointment with one of these agencies, you will be seen quickly and in total privacy. These services are free of charge to you no matter what your income is, how old you are, or where you live. Counselling provides an opportunity for you to explore your feelings about your pregnancy and to discuss the options open to you.

www.positiveoptions.ie is a website hosted by the Crisis Pregnancy Agency for those with an unexpected pregnancy.

Housing
The kind of housing which a one parent family can obtain will depend on their financial and family circumstances, and the availability of accommodation in the area. Here we set out some options which can be followed up by a lone parent. A list of organisations which may be of assistance is given at the end of this book, see pages 110-111.

Post-natal accommodation for unmarried parents
There are a small number of post-natal accommodation services available for unmarried parents throughout the country.

Generally, it is a good idea to talk to a social worker about the possibility of using these services as some services require a referral from a social worker. There are different types of accommodation available including shared rooms, shared housing, single units en-suite, bedsits
and flats. They are available in Cork, Donegal, Dublin, Limerick, Sligo and Waterford. The length of stay varies from 3 months to 18 months. Rent varies, but it is usually subsidised.

Some services have training programmes and there can be conditions attached to staying in the units. There can often be a waiting list for these services. A list of these services is available from Treoir.

Private rented accommodation
There are several ways to go about finding a house or flat. You can look at newspapers, put a notice up locally, for example, on supermarket notice-boards, contact a letting agency (see Golden Pages), or ask around. Some support groups or voluntary organisations may be able to help.

Most ordinary tenants have no security of tenure beyond that implied by any lease or letting agreement. The landlord must ensure that the dwelling complies with minimum standards and supply a rent book.

If you have a disagreement with your landlord about the terms of the tenancy, contact the Private Residential Tenancies Board, see page 111. It offers a voluntary mediation service for landlords and tenants who jointly agree to refer their dispute to the Board.

A rent supplement may be available from the Community Welfare Officer at the local health centre to people on social welfare payments or very low incomes. This will be related to the cost of rented accommodation in the area. For more information on rent supplement, see page 27.

A deposit is usually required on reaching agreement to rent. Help with this may be given in exceptional circumstances by the Community Welfare Officer.

Tax credits can be claimed for most private rented accommodation. The annual amount of credit for those under 55 years of age is as follows: €254 if you are single; €508 if you are married or widowed. There is a higher credit for those over 55 years up to a maximum of €508 if you are single, or €1,016 if you are married or widowed. Unmarried parents are treated as single people.

Renting from the local authority
Local authorities accept applications from anyone living in their areas, and may also do so for people living outside their areas. After being assessed, the applicant goes on the housing list and accommodation is offered on a priority system. One parent families in need of housing are among the priority groups for housing. Urgent cases can be considered without reference to the waiting list; applicants may get priority for special and serious health reasons, or on exceptional compassionate grounds. The rent you pay is related to your household income, less certain deductions.

Apply to the housing section of your local authority. Most local authorities have housing welfare officers. It would be useful to discuss your own application with the officer for your area.

Buying a house
Taking out a loan may be possible if you have sufficient income to pay back the mortgage.

There are private and commercial lending agencies, and local authority loans. People on low income who have been refused a loan by a private or commercial agency may apply for a local authority loan. If, however, your only income is a social welfare payment, you are unlikely to be considered for a loan.

Lone parents who have been on the housing list for at least a year are treated as special category applicants and are exempt from the usual local authority income limit for borrowers; this is currently €32,000 for a single-income household. This is one good reason to put your name on the housing list.

The local authority has different types of housing options including a Shared Ownership Mortgage which is designed especially for people on low incomes who can't afford to buy a house with an ordinary mortgage. Initially, ownership of the house is shared between the buyer and the local authority. The buyer makes mortgage repayments on his/her share and pays rent to the local authority for the remaining share. In due course, the local authority sells its share to the buyer.

There is an Affordable Housing Scheme to help people in lower-income households buy their own homes. Local authorities provide additional new houses for purchase by people on low incomes, that is, under €32,000 for a single-income household. There is a graduated subsidy towards mortgage repayments for those whose income is below €25,500. This scheme is usually of more benefit to people outside the larger urban areas, where house prices are lower.

Mortgage interest
Tax credits are available for mortgage interest. From January 2003, the tax credits available to first time buyers are as follows:
€800 if you are single; €1,600 if you are married or widowed. This credit is available for seven years. For all others, the upper limits are: €508 if you are single; €1,016 if you are married or widowed. This tax credit is applied at source by the mortgage provider.

The situation for separated people can be more complex and they should contact their local tax office.

Joint ownership
Cohabiting couples, who are buying a house together should consider which is the best ownership option. Joint ownership can be held in one of two ways:

· Joint tenancy, whereby the whole property is owned by two people with the intention, that on the death of one, the other person will automatically own all of the property. Where one person has paid for the property, the other person may not get 50% of the proceeds if the house is sold. Check with a solicitor.

· Tenancy in common, whereby the property is owned in defined shares by two or more people, for example, 50/50, 75/25, 60/40, and so on. Each person may leave their share to whomsoever she or he wishes. If, however, there is no will, the share will become part of the estate of the deceased partner and an estranged spouse or blood relative can have a claim on it.

See also wills and inheritance, pages 85-87.

Housing co-operatives
The Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government provides funds for approved social rented housing projects undertaken by the voluntary and co-operative housing sector. This is a possible option for those on the waiting lists to avail of accommodation managed by housing associations or co-operatives. Housing associations and other approved voluntary housing organisations are committed to providing wellmanaged rented housing as an important part of the response to the housing needs of people in low-income households and
other disadvantaged or marginalised groups.

House improvement or extension
It may be possible under a social housing scheme to improve a family dwelling, for instance, by building an extension to accommodate a lone parent whose name is on the housing list. The local authority decides on each case and carries out the work. The homeowner then repays a weekly amount to the local authority, related to their income.

Sites
The local authority can make low-cost sites available to people who are in need of housing and who are on the housing waiting list, in order to build their own homes.

Homeless
If you find yourself homeless, you should contact the duty social worker in your local health board.

Child care
Choosing the right child care for your child can be a difficult decision. There is a range of options, some of which may suit you and your child more than others. Find someone you are happy with as you need to be confident that your child is being well cared for in your absence.

Nurseries and crθches
These provide full-time and part-time care for children. Some nurseries are subsidised by the health boards. It can be difficult
to get a place in these, but preference is given to children of lone parents. The charges are not very high, but usually they only take children aged two or over. Your public health nurse is often aware of any available child care in the area which may be subsidised.

Playgroups and pre-schools
These provide part-time care for children aged from three to five years, generally two to three hours each day.

Childminder
A childminder may care for your child in your home, or in the childminder's own home. The National Childminding Association of Ireland has a register of members who are childminders and very useful leaflets, see useful addresses.

Regulation of pre-school services
Since January 1997, nurseries, crθches and playgroups providing day care services for children under six have to meet certain standards as regards health and safety under the Preschool Services Regulations 1996. They must be notified to the health board which will carry out regular inspections of the services. There is no State regulation if the childminder is caring for fewer than four children.

Registered child care providers
They must be notified to the health board and inspected by them. The child care facility may also be registered with either the National Childminding Association of Ireland or the National Children's Nurseries Association.

Direct funding for child care may be available from the following sources

FΑS
FΑS, the National Training and Employment Authority, can help with child care costs for people who wish to undertake vocational training with FΑS.

You may qualify for funding from FΑS if:

· You are unemployed, wish to obtain work and wish to undertake a FΑS vocational training programme, excluding apprenticeship,

· You are the main carer of a child or children, and · You need child care in order to take up a training opportunity.

The child care provider does not have to be registered; they could be a member of your family, for instance, a grandparent, an aunt, and so on.

For more information, or to apply for assistance, contact your local FΑS office.

Voluntary Training Opportunity Schemes, Youthreach and Senior Traveller Training Programmes
Some child care expenses are available for those participating on any of these programmes. Contact your Vocational Education Committee (VEC). Each area will have a limited amount available for child care. Any allowances paid must be used to pay registered child care providers, see above.

Health boards
If you need help with child care costs you may apply to the Community Welfare Officer (CWO) at your local health centre for a payment of up to a maximum of €35 per week or 75%, whichever is the lesser, towards the cost of a registered child care provider.

For further information, contact your local health board social worker, or public health nurse.

Further information on child care

County Childcare Committees
As a result of the Government's National Childcare Policy, County Childcare Committees have been assigned to advance the provision of child care services within local areas. If you are having a problem sourcing affordable child care in your area, it would be worth checking with your local committee. These committees may be contacted through your local Area Partnership Office. Or you can contact:

The Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme,
ADM Ltd.,
Holbrook House, Holles Street, Dublin 2.
Tel: (01) 240 0700

The National Childcare Census Report This report is available for reference purposes at your local library and provides details on child care provision in the whole of Ireland. Details of what child care may be available in your area can be ordered through Area Development
Management, Tel: (01) 240 0700. Ask for an Executive Summary, it is free of charge.

Partnership Areas
If you are living in a Partnership Area, contact your local Partnership as they may have useful information about child care supports in your area. To find out if you are in a Partnership Area, contact your local Citizens Information Centre.

Registration of births by unmarried parents

The birth of a baby should be registered before the baby is three months old. If this is not done, a statutory declaration must be completed, signed in the presence of a Peace Commissioner and brought to the registrar for the district where the birth took place. Statutory declaration forms are available from the General Register Office, see page 112.

Parents are now required to bring photographic identification with them when registering a birth in the Dublin area. Where both parents are involved in the registration process, then photo ID is required for both parents. It is advisable, though not a requirement, to bring photo ID with you when you register outside the Dublin area.

Where possible, both parents should enter their names in the Register of Births even though they are not married to each other. The reasons for this are:

· The child will have accurate information concerning her/his parents. This is of fundamental importance for the child's own sense of identity and personal history.

· Having the father's name in the Register can avoid a lot of problems if ever there are proceedings regarding, say, the child's maintenance or the right to inherit from the father in which the question of paternity might be an issue.

Surnames
A surname must be chosen for the child at registration and this is entered in the Register of Births. Surnames which can be chosen for the child are:

· Mother's surname

· Father's surname, but only if his name is being entered in the Register of Births at the first registration

· A combination of both names, that is, a double-barrelled surname, but again only if the father's name is being entered in the Register at the first registration

Where the birth is registered with the mother's name alone in the Register of Births, only her surname can be used for the child.

If any name other than that of either parent is requested by the parents of the child, the Registrar-General must be satisfied that the circumstances warrant the entry of this surname. Applications must be made in writing for the approval of the Registrar-General to the General Register Office.

The surname of the child can only be changed in the Register if:

· The birth was registered in the mother's name alone,

· The birth is being re-registered to include the father's name,

· The birth was registered after the 1st October 1997, and

· Both parents consent.

The surname of the child can be changed by Deed Poll or by common usage, but neither of these changes the entry in the Register of Births.

How to enter the father's name in the Register of Births
You can enter the father's name in the Register of Births in the following ways:

· Both parents can go to the local registrar's office and register the birth.

· Either parent can go to the local registrar's office and register the birth bringing a statutory declaration by the other parent acknowledging paternity. Statutory declaration forms are available from the General Register Office.

· Either parent can have the father's name entered in the Register of Births if there is any court order in respect of the child which names the father of the child; for example, this could be an access, guardianship or maintenance order, and this includes old affiliation orders but not lump sum orders.

You must provide a certified copy of the court order to the local registrar's office. Voluntary maintenance agreements or deeds of guardianship, which are not court orders, are not acceptable for registration purposes.

Re-registration to include the father's name

If the child has already been registered in the mother's name alone, it is possible to re-register the birth at any future date in order to have the father's name included.

If the birth was first registered before 1st October 1997, then a surname must be chosen on re-registration.

If the birth was registered after 1st October 1997, the surname can be changed where both parents consent.

If the birth was re-registered between October 1997 and November 2002, and there was no option of changing the surname of the child, a second re-registration can be made to change the child's surname with the consent of both parents.

Applications should be made directly to the General Register Office using one of the methods outlined above.

Where the father's name is entered in the Register of Births

Entering the father's name in the Register of Births does not affect the mother's entitlement to One-Parent Family Payment, provided she fulfils the other conditions for receiving One-Parent Family Payment. Even if the father's name is not entered in the Register of Births, a parent applying for One-Parent Family Payment will be required to name the other parent, and/or seek maintenance for the child from the other parent. See page 23.

The registration by itself does not give the father any guardianship rights. Guardianship rights must be sought either with the agreement of the mother by completing a statutory declaration, or through the courts. See page 76.

The father's permission will not be needed for passports and so on, provided he does not have guardianship by court order or deed in respect of the child.

Re-registration of the birth following the marriage of the parents
Births which were registered before 1st October 1997 can be re-registered following the marriage of both parents under the Legitimacy Act 1931. A surname must be assigned to the child on the new registration.

Births, which were registered on or after 1st October 1997, can be re-registered following marriage only if the first registration was in the mother's name alone. The surname already chosen can be changed on re-registration with the consent of both parents.

Births, which were registered on or after 1st October 1997 and included paternity details, may not be re-registered following marriage.

It is not necessary for the parents to adopt their own child following their marriage.

Where the mother was or is married to someone other than the father
When a married woman has a child, there is a presumption in law that her husband is the father of the child. This presumption applies unless they have a deed of separation (a legal document usually drawn up by a solicitor), or a court Decree of Judicial Separation, or a recognised divorce; these must be dated at least 10 months before the birth of the child.

Where the mother is married to someone other than the father and both parents wish the father's name to be entered in the Register of Births, then it is necessary to produce either a statutory declaration by the mother's husband stating that he is not the child's father or a decree or deed of separation.

This application must be accompanied either by a statutory declaration from the mother stating that she was living apart from her husband under the decree or deed of separation for more than 10 months before the birth of the child, or an Irish Decree of Divorce which was obtained at least 10 months prior to the birth. All foreign decrees must be referred to the General Register Office to determine if they are entitled to recognition in the State.

You do not need the declarations mentioned above where there is a court order naming the father and this is being used, when you register the birth, to include the father's name in the Register of Births.

It will be necessary to have a court decision on paternity before the registrar can enter the father's name in the Register of Births if:

· The statutory declaration from the mother's husband is not available for whatever reason

· The mother has not formally separated by deed or decree or

· The mother does not have a recognised divorce from her husband

A married woman and her child's father, but not her husband, may have agreed joint guardianship rights for the father by way of statutory declaration with a Peace Commissioner or Commissioner for Oaths, see page 76. However, the statutory declaration is not sufficient to register the father's name in the Register of Births.

Paternity testing

Paternity testing procedures
Paternity testing can be undertaken in Ireland by contacting one of the agencies listed on page 114. Some agencies use blood samples and others use mouth swabs. A child must be three months old before blood testing can be undertaken for paternity testing purposes, but a mouth swab test can be taken from birth. For identification purposes, photos are required of those giving samples. DNA paternity testing can also be done by telephoning Cellmark Diagnostics directly and the process takes approximately three weeks. A kit is forwarded to a nominated doctor who will take mouth swab samples and send them back to the laboratory. Photos are also required for this.

Blood and DNA test evidence
Where the court has to decide who is the father of a child, it can direct that blood samples and/or mouth swabs be given by any party to the proceedings for the purposes of carrying out paternity tests. Usually the mother, the alleged father and the child will be directed to give a blood sample or a mouth swab for testing purposes.

Where a person refuses to give a sample, the court can draw whatever inferences it thinks proper in the circumstances of the particular case. For example, if an alleged father refused to give a sample, the court might take the view that he was afraid the tests would show that he was in fact the father. If the mother refused to give a sample, the court may take the view that she was afraid the tests might prove that the
named man was not the father.

The court may make an order for costs.

Passport applications

Married parents
Where a child's parents are married to each other, the consent of both parents is required for passport applications; this applies even where the parents are separated or divorced. If one parent cannot be contacted, or is unreasonably withholding consent, an application can be made to the District Court to have the consent dispensed with.

Unmarried parents

Where unmarried parents are not joint guardians
If a child's parents are not married to each other, the father's consent is not required for passport purposes unless he has acquired joint guardianship rights through the courts or by statutory declaration with the mother. This applies even if the father's name is entered in the Register of Births.

If the father has not been appointed a joint guardian through the courts or by statutory declaration, then the mother swears an affidavit in the presence of a Commissioner of Oaths stating that she is the sole guardian of the child. These forms can be obtained from the Passport Office.

Instead of swearing an affidavit that she is the sole guardian, a mother may ask the father to sign the passport application (Form M), even though he is not a joint guardian. His name must be on the birth certificate for this procedure. This is acceptable to the Passport Office.

Where unmarried parents are joint guardians
This is where the father has been appointed a joint guardian through the courts or by statutory declaration. Then, and only then, is his consent to the passport application required. If one guardian cannot be contacted or is unreasonably withholding consent, an application can be made to the District Court to have the consent dispensed with.

Introduction to legal issues
The information in the following chapters is a summary of the legal issues that may arise.

Legal information applies to everyone living in Ireland, regardless of origin.

You can get useful leaflets on family law from the Family Mediation Service, the Legal Aid Board and AIM Family Services. See useful addresses.

Civil legal aid

Civil legal aid is available to applicants who wish to bring family law matters before the courts. The service is strictly means tested. Generally, if your sole or main income is from social welfare, you are eligible. However, you may still have to pay a small contribution for the service.

The Legal Aid Board also pays for a private solicitor service in the District Courts for applicants for domestic violence remedies. The general means testing applies for this service and a contribution is payable by the client.

The appropriate court
The local District Courts usually hear issues such as custody of children and access to them, maintenance, guardianship, paternity matters and issues of domestic violence; these issues may also be heard in the Circuit Court.

Where the problem concerns property rights or where married couples wish to have a Judicial Separation or divorce, they must apply to the Circuit Court. This will be in the area where either of them lives or works.

If a party is not satisfied with the decision of the court, it is possible to appeal to the next higher court - from the District Court to the Circuit Court, from the Circuit Court to the High Court.

Only one appeal on any issue may be made. If, however, circumstances change, issues of child custody, maintenance and access can be brought before the courts again. So can domestic violence issues. There can be very long delays before getting a date for the Circuit Court.

All family law cases are heard in camera in the courts, that is, only the parties and their legal advisers are allowed into the court for the case and the privacy of the parties is protected.
Any witnesses are admitted only while they are giving evidence and being examined by the legal advisers of the spouses. Note that cohabitees are not seen by the law as a family and, unless their case is about their children, it will not be held in camera. See also cohabitation, pages 88-90.

Appeals
Appeals to orders made in the District Court must be made within 14 days. The order of the lower court will stand until the appeal is heard, unless the court directs otherwise.

Rules of court
Any agreement in writing relating to custody, access or maintenance can be made a rule of court on application by either parent. The court may make such an order if it is satisfied that the agreement is a fair and reasonable one which, in all the circumstances, adequately protects the interests of the parents and the child. Generally, it is in the child's best interest to have a relationship with both parents.

If the agreement is breached, the same sanctions apply as if it was a court order. Apply to the local District Court.

Going to court
If you are consulting a solicitor, make sure that she/he is experienced in family law. It is possible to represent yourself in the District Court. In the Circuit Court, legal representation is advisable.

Guardianship

A guardian of a child has rights and responsibilities with regard to decisions on all major matters affecting the upbringing of the child: for example, choice of school, medical treatment, adoption, religious matters, decisions about leaving the country, and so on.

Where the parents are married, both are automatically guardians of their child and remain so even if they separate or divorce. In exceptional circumstances, children of married parents can be adopted and the guardianship rights of the parents are therefore removed.

Where the parents are not married, only the mother is automatically the guardian of the child. Guardianship should not be confused with custody which involves the day-to-day care of the child.

Note: the fact that the father's name is entered in the Register of Births does not give him guardianship rights in respect of the child.

For an unmarried father to have guardianship rights one of the following must happen:

· Where both parents are in agreement about the father becoming a guardian, then both parents can complete a statutory declaration to this effect in the presence of a Peace Commissioner, Commissioner of Oaths or a Notary Public. A copy of this declaration is available through the Government Publications Office (ref. Statutory Instrument SI No. 5 /1998), or from Treoir.

· Where the mother is not in agreement with the father becoming a guardian, then the father can apply to the District Court to become a joint guardian with the mother of the child; this applies whether or not his name is in the Register of Births. Applications may be made for guardianship, under the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964, to the parent's local District Court Office. In Dublin, you apply to the Family Law Office. It is possible for the father to institute these proceedings himself by contacting the relevant office.

While the court takes the mother's views into account in making a decision, the fact that she does not consent does not automatically mean the court will refuse the order sought by the father. The decision of the court will be made with the interests of the child being the first and paramount consideration.

A father who has been appointed joint guardian by a court or by a statutory declaration may be removed from his position as joint guardian if the court is satisfied that this is in the best interests of the child. The only way a mother can give up her guardianship rights is by placing the child for adoption.

Where joint guardians cannot reach agreement on an issue concerning the child, then an application can be made to the court for a decision and the court will make a decision in the best interests of the child.

If the parents of a child marry each other following the birth of their child, then the father automatically becomes joint guardian with the mother as long as the child has not been adopted. There is no need for the father to apply to the court for guardianship rights, nor is there any need for him to adopt the child.

Where a father is a joint guardian and the mother marries another man, the father remains a joint guardian of the child. If the mother and her husband wish to adopt the child and the father has been appointed a joint guardian, then his consent to the adoption is required and he relinquishes his own guardianship rights should the adoption be completed. It should also be noted that the adoption in such circumstances
has the effect of severing all legal links between the child, her/his father, and the father's family. This includes the father's right to apply for access, custody, or guardianship in respect of the child, as well as the child's right to maintenance and inheritance from the father.

Both parents should be encouraged to be fully responsible for and involved with their child. However, applying for joint guardianship is a serious commitment, and it should be given much thought before the application is made. Difficulties may arise if the parents lose touch with each other in later years. Some legal forms require the signatures of both guardians, for example, passport applications.

Making a will
All parents who are guardians, but especially mothers who are sole guardians, should make a will appointing a guardian to act in the event of their death. It is advisable to talk this over with the person to be named in the will and get his/her consent to being named in the will as, what is known as, a testamentary guardian.

Following the death of the parent who made the will, the surviving guardian (if there is one) then acts jointly with the testamentary guardian. Where the deceased parent has not appointed a guardian or if the testamentary guardian dies or refuses to act, the court may appoint a guardian or guardians to act jointly with the surviving parental guardian (if any).

Custody
Custody is the physical day-to-day care and control of the child.

Married parents have automatic joint custody of their children.

Separated and divorced parents can decide themselves on the custody arrangements of the children. If they cannot agree, they can try mediation or apply to the court for a decision which will be made in the best interests of the children.

Mothers who are not married to the fathers of their children have automatic custody of the children. Unmarried parents may also informally agree to shared custody. Fathers may apply to the courts for full or joint custody regardless of whether they have applied for joint guardianship, or have been appointed a guardian of the child.

Under the Children Act 1997, it is possible for parents to apply for joint custody. A One-Parent Family Payment will be granted by the Department of Social and Family Affairs to one parent only - whoever is seen as the primary carer. It will not be given to both or split between them. One-Parent Family Payment is not paid to either parent in joint-equal custody cases.

In joint custody cases, each parent may be entitled to a One Parent Family Tax Credit.

Access
Where the parents of a child are not living together, it may be possible to come to an informal arrangement so that the nonresident
parent may have access to his/her child on a regular basis without having to go to court. This is regardless of marital status.

Mediation may help, if you are having difficulty making an arrangement regarding access that is satisfactory to both of you, and you do not wish to go to court. See page 91.

Where agreement cannot be reached, an application may be made to the court for an access order. If the court decides that access by the non-resident parent is in the child's best interests, the court may set the time, place and duration of access.

Access may be applied for whether or not the father's name is in the Register of Births, whether or not he is a joint guardian, and even where an application for joint guardianship has been turned down.

As with all cases involving children, any decision made by the court will be made in the best interests of the child.

Where both guardianship and access are being applied for, separate applications must be made; both applications will usually be heard at the same hearing.

Under the Children Act 1997, any person related to the child by blood or adoption, for instance, grandparents, may apply to the court for leave to apply for access to a child; this is also true for any person who has acted in loco parentis (in place of a parent) to a child. Before making a decision, the court will consider:

· The applicant's connection with the child

· The risk, if any, of the application disrupting the child's life to the extent that the child would be harmed by it

· The wishes of the child's guardian(s)

Child abduction
Under the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964, a parent who fears that the other parent may seek to remove a child from the jurisdiction, that is, from the Irish State, may obtain a court order prohibiting the parent from taking such action without the consent of either the parent or the court.

Where a child has already been abducted, a parent may seek a court order prohibiting the removal of the child from the jurisdiction. The court will normally require the other parent to produce the child in court within a stated number of days.

Under the Non-Fatal Offences against the Person Act 1997, it is an offence for a parent, guardian, or person to whom custody of a child has been granted to take or send that child (if under 16) out of the State without the consent of the other parent, or any other guardian or person having custody. This also applies if the child leaves the State in defiance of a court order.

It is also an offence for a parent who is not a guardian or who does not have custody of the child to detain or remove the child (if under 16) from the lawful control of any person who has lawful control of the child.

The above is only an outline of the relevant legislation in this area. In all such cases of threatened or actual child abduction, detailed legal advice should be sought immediately. Contact the Central Authority for Child Abduction, see page 113.

Maintenance
Separated or divorced parents are responsible for the maintenance of their children. Depending on the terms of the separation or divorce, they may also have maintenance responsibilities in respect of each other. Maintenance payments in respect of the spouse may be liable for tax, see pages 51-53 for information on this. Payments are only taxed once. Unmarried parents are both responsible for the maintenance
of their children, but have no financial responsibility to each other. There are no tax credits for maintenance paid or received in respect of children. There are no tax credits for children, unless they have a disability; any maintenance is paid out of taxed income.

All maintenance paid will be taken into account in assessing a parent's eligibility for:

· One-Parent Family Payment, see page 21 regarding offsetting maintenance against rent or mortgage payments

· Family Income Supplement

· Medical card

· Supplementary Welfare Allowance, including Rent and

Mortgage Interest Supplement, see pages 26 and 27 Maintenance arrangements can be made by the parents themselves, or with the help of a mediator or a solicitor, or through the courts if the parents cannot agree.

A maintenance agreement can include, or consist only of, a property transfer or a lump sum payment. However, it cannot rule out the possibility of applying for a Maintenance Order at some time in the future. Where parents enter into a maintenance agreement in writing, either parent may make an application to court for an order making the agreement a rule of court.

Maintenance Orders can be sought at any time through the District Court, and it is not necessary to have legal representation to undertake maintenance proceedings.

If the parents are not married to each other, paternity may need to be established in the course of these proceedings. The maximum that the District Court can order from either parent is €150 per week for each child and €500 for a spouse. There is no maximum in the Circuit Court.

If you wish to appeal the decision of the court, you can do so within 14 days or apply for an extension of time to appeal. If circumstances change, either parent can go back to court at any time for a Variation Order to have the amount of maintenance increased or decreased.

Where an application for maintenance is dismissed because of the financial circumstances of either or both parents, it is possible to request the judge to make an order for a nominal sum, even €5 per week. In this way, if financial circumstances change in the future, it would be simpler to apply for a Variation Order than to start proceedings all over again.

A parent may seek a contribution from the father for expenses associated with the birth or for funeral expenses if the child dies, maximum of €2,000 under each heading. This can be done through the District Court. In addition, one or more lump sum payments may be ordered by the court instead of, or together with, a regular maintenance payment. The limit of such lump sums in the District Court is €4,000. There is no such limit in the Circuit or High Court.

Maintenance proceedings are always held in private. They can be brought at any time up to the child's 18th birthday, or up to the 23rd birthday if the child is in full-time education or would be if maintenance were being paid. If the child has a disability, there is no age limit.

If a parent falls behind with payments, it is possible to apply to the court for an Attachment of Earnings Summons which means that the maintenance payments are deducted by the employer. Under the Family Law Act 1995, it is also possible to apply for this attachment at the time of the initial maintenance hearing.

If the parent is self-employed, an Enforcement Summons can be applied for.

Six months of arrears is the most that can be claimed through any one summons.

Paying maintenance does not give a parent any access or guardianship rights.

A Maintenance Order, or any other court order naming the man as father, can be used to register the father's name in the Register of Births. This can be done by either parent, without the consent of the other.

If a mother marries a man other than the father of her child, but they do not adopt the child, then the father may still be obliged to maintain the child. If the child is adopted, the father is no longer obliged to maintain his child.

Maintenance from abroad

United Kingdom
It is possible to take proceedings in Ireland for the award of maintenance against a person living in the UK. You need to know the address of the person in order to do this.

Other countries
The UN Convention on the Recovery Abroad of Maintenance Payments is designed to facilitate the recovery of maintenance by a person living in one jurisdiction from a person living in another.

A Central Authority has been established in Ireland to transmit claims for enforcement to other states, and to receive such claims from other states. The designated Central Authority in Ireland is The Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. The Department will process applications to enforce maintenance orders in other countries. It is likely to be a lengthy procedure.

Useful address
Central Authority for Maintenance Recovery,
Bishop's Square, Redmond's Hill, Dublin 2.
Tel: (01) 479 0290 or (01) 479 0287

Wills and inheritance
It is very important to make a will so that your estate and belongings can be distributed as you wish. It reduces the confusion and argument that can arise after a bereavement. It can also be efficient tax planning and reduce the tax payable by your heirs.

It is very important for a parent who is a sole guardian to make a will appointing a testamentary guardian, that is, a guardian appointed by a will, to act on her/his behalf in the event of the parent's death. It is also very important for this parent to appoint trustees who will look after any assets for the children until they come of age.

It is advisable to make a will after making a legal separation agreement, or being granted a Judicial Separation decree, or a divorce decree. If it is relevant, you should change the terms of an existing will. If there are children, you should appoint a guardian.

Rules of inheritance
Rules of inheritance are different for married couples and unmarried couples.

Married couples
Where a married couple have the property in joint ownership as a joint tenancy, the property automatically goes to the survivor and there is no tax liability.

Unmarried couples
Where an unmarried couple have the property in joint ownership as a joint tenancy, the property automatically goes to the survivor, see page 62. If the property is held as a tenancy in common, then the survivor does not automatically inherit the other person's share; it goes to the deceased's heirs as designated in a will or on intestacy.

Unmarried couples are considered legal strangers. On the death of one owner, Capital Acquisitions Tax rules apply to the property. The threshold level for this tax is relatively low when the beneficiary is a legal stranger. An important exception from inheritance tax is that the home of the couple may be exempt from this tax where the survivor inherits the home and certain conditions are fulfilled, see page 54.

It is worth considering taking out a specific insurance policy, known as Section 60, to cover this inheritance tax.

Children
All children have the same basic rights under succession law, whether or not their parents have married each other, and children here include adult children as well as minors.

A child whose parents have not married each other may have difficulty asserting those rights with regard to his/her father, or people related to him/her through the father, unless he/she can prove paternity. If paternity has been established during the father's lifetime, this difficulty is largely overcome; for instance, the father's name may have been entered in the Register of Births, or an Access, Maintenance or Custody Order may have been granted.

A Declaration of Parenthood can be sought through the Circuit Court. If, however, this takes place after the death of the parent, there may be a difficulty with evidence.

Where a will has not been made
If the deceased is survived by a spouse and no children, then the spouse is entitled to the entire estate.

Where there is a spouse and children, the spouse is entitled to two-thirds of the estate and the children to the other third divided equally among them. If there is no surviving spouse but there are children, then each child is entitled to an equal share of the estate.

Where the deceased was unmarried, the cohabiting partner is not legally entitled to any share of the estate. If the deceased had any children, they automatically succeed to his estate. Where there are no children, blood relatives of the deceased are the beneficiaries of the estate.

Where a will has been made
Where a will has been made, the spouse is entitled to onethird of the estate regardless of the terms of the will, unless she/he has given up their succession rights in writing.

If a parent died having made a will, but failed to make proper provision for any of his or her children, then the children affected may apply to the court for a share in the estate.

A cohabiting partner has no right to inherit, unless this is specifically provided for in a will. If their house is held as a joint tenancy, then the surviving partner will inherit this outside of the will. If the will provides for a cohabiting partner, this inheritance may be affected by the legal right of a spouse to a share and it also may be subject to tax.

Cohabitation

Cohabitation is when two people who are living together as man and wife are not legally married to each other.

In Ireland, there is no legal concept of common-law husband or wife.

Cohabitating couples have few of the legal protections or rights or obligations which married couples have. Since they are not married to each other, the law holds that they cannot have the same legal protections as the family based on marriage. In particular, their house is not considered to be a family home. However, one exception is where the house is inherited by one partner on the death of the other; that
inheritance may be free of inheritance tax if certain conditions exist, see page 54. A financially dependent partner may be vulnerable if the
relationship breaks down.

Cohabiting couples should be aware of the following:

· Cohabiting couples do not have the benefit of the Family Home Protection Act 1976, which protects a spouse from having their home sold without their consent. This means if one partner is the sole owner of their house, he/she may evict the other partner if the relationship breaks down.

· Even if the house is in joint names, one partner may have paid for the house without any financial input from the other. If the relationship breaks down, the other partner may be held to have no ownership rights to the house unless there is a clear intention that his/her name was on the deeds so that he/she would benefit from it.

· Cohabiting couples cannot claim maintenance, except for children, and do not have automatic succession rights from each other. See also pages 85-87.

· A former spouse may still have inheritance rights when a cohabitee dies, unless these have been given up in a legal agreement or by court order.

· Cohabiting couples cannot claim tax relief in respect of each other. They are each taxed as single.

· Fathers do not have any automatic guardianship rights in respect of the children.

· One-Parent Family Payment is not payable to a person who is cohabiting.

Children of cohabiting couples do, however, have the same succession and maintenance rights as children born to married couples.

Where couples are cohabiting and in receipt of social welfare payments, they are treated in the same way as a married couple; that is, they only receive a personal payment plus a qualified adult payment. If one applies for a means-tested payment, the income of both is assessed.

However if one is working, they are not treated in the same way as a married couple for income tax purposes; they are treated less favourably. The working partner cannot claim for the married credits and only single tax bands apply.

Safeguards checklist
Cohabiting couples and their children should consider the following safeguards:

· Register the father's name in the Register of Births.

· If you are a father, consider becoming a joint guardian of your children.

· Make a will. As cohabitees have no automatic rights of inheritance from their partners, this needs to be taken care of by a will, see pages 85-87.

· In the will, appoint a testamentary guardian for minor children and also trustee(s) who will look after the deceased parent's estate which is to be held in trust for the children until they come of age.

· If relevant, have a legal separation or divorce from the spouse and make appropriate provision for the first family.

· Check whether joint tenancy or tenancy in common is the best ownership option as regards any jointly owned property you may have, see page 62.

· Take out a Section 60 insurance policy to pay inheritance tax. Talk to your insurance broker.

· Take out a life policy on each other.

· Check pension rights to see if your partner could be a beneficiary, and if so, consider doing a 'letter of wishes' in his/her favour.

· Under the 1996 Domestic Violence Act, cohabitees are given protection against domestic violence in certain circumstances.

You can apply for a Safety Order, a Protection Order or a Barring Order.

Mediation
Mediation is the process which helps both married and unmarried partners who are in conflict to negotiate an agreement on issues such as parenting arrangements, property issues, maintenance, and so on. Mediation can be an alternative to court proceedings. Both partners must be willing to reach solutions which are mutually acceptable to each of them. It cannot work without their co-operation. It can also be complementary to court procedure. Any discussions within mediation may not be put before the court.

A mediator encourages partners to co-operate with each other in working out mutually acceptable arrangements. An important focus will be on the needs of the children. The mediator will try to get the couple to look into the future: where each one sees themselves in relation to their children, how it will affect their children, and how best parenting can be achieved while living as separate parents.

Mediation is not a counselling or legal advice service and is confidential.

The advantages of mediation are:

· It is less divisive than a court hearing

· Arrangements and details are mutually agreed and therefore more likely to be honoured

· It can be significantly less expensive than going to court

· The mediated agreement can be a basis for a legally binding separation agreement

Under the Judicial Separation and divorce legislation, solicitors are required to inform their clients of the existence of mediation services and discuss the possibility of their use. The State provides a free family mediation service throughout the country. Contact the Family Mediation Service for further information, see page 115. There are also some private mediation services available throughout the country.

Legal separation

Separation agreement
When a marriage has broken down and a couple wishes to separate, they may draw up a legal separation agreement. This agreement is a legal written contract between a husband and wife setting out their future rights and obligations. Once the document is signed and witnessed by both spouses, it is binding on them.

There are advantages in drawing up a legal separation agreement. It can be done more quickly, it is cheaper, and the process is less acrimonious than a court procedure. The couple can decide on their own arrangements for the future rather than have a solution imposed by the court.

The agreement will deal with issues such as:

· The family home - who stays in it, or if it is sold now or at a future date the percentage each spouse will receive, or the future ownership of the home

· The distribution of the family finance

· In cases of children, the custody, access, maintenance and housing arrangements

· Pension provisions (in some cases court orders are necessary for the division of pensions)

The agreement can be worked out with the help of a mediator who will encourage the couple to co-operate with each other to work out a mutually acceptable arrangement.

Where either of the spouses will need maintenance or other financial provision from the other, then both are obliged to make full disclosure of all income and assets to each other.

A separation agreement is a legally binding contract. Each spouse should have his/her own solicitor to ensure that he/she understands the terms of the agreement and that it is fair. When it is signed by both spouses and witnessed by their solicitors it may be made a rule of court by the Circuit Court. It is not essential to have the agreement ruled by the court, but it is helpful if there is default later, especially with
maintenance payments. The spouses should consider making new wills.

Legal aid may be an option for one or both spouses.

Judicial Separation
When a marriage has broken down and the spouses cannot agree on terms of separation, or when only one spouse wishes to seek a separation, an application can be made to a court for a Decree of Judicial Separation under the Judicial Separation and Family Law Reform Act 1989, and the Family Law Act 1995.

There are various grounds for granting such a decree. Among them are: adultery, desertion for a continuous period of one year, unreasonable behaviour, and absence of normal marital relationships for a period of a year or more. Once the grounds for a separation exist, the courts do not usually take conduct into account, unless the conduct is such that it would be unreasonable to ignore it.

An application is made to the Circuit Court, normally through a solicitor. One solicitor cannot act for both parties. First, the solicitor must establish from the client that the grounds for a separation exist. Each spouse is obliged to make full financial disclosure through their solicitors to the other party. The solicitor must advise the client about the counselling and mediation services available to couples whose marriage is in difficulties, and also about the option of an agreed separation. It is possible for couples to bring a part agreement before the
court, which will accept and rule on the same. The court will make orders on any matters on which the couple were unable to reach agreement.

Once the court grants a decree, it then deals with other matters such as the custody of the children and access to them, maintenance, possession or sale of the family home, division of other property, pension rights, and so on. The court has very broad discretion as to the orders it may make in relation to property transfers between the spouses, the exclusion of one spouse from the home, what share of the
proceeds of the sale of a property each spouse should get, and so on. The couple must live separately afterwards.

Interim orders
As the delays in getting the full case heard in the Circuit Court can be lengthy, some parties may need to seek interim orders, which will stand until the case is decided. These orders may include:

· A Protection Order
· An Interim Barring Order
· A Child Custody Order
· A Maintenance Order
· An Order to preserve the family home, its contents, or other assets

An order for the transfer of property from one spouse to the other can be made only once, unless it is proved that one spouse wilfully concealed relevant information when the order was made. Either spouse may apply to the court to have custody, access or maintenance orders varied if circumstances have changed.

Legal fees for these procedures are high and can vary. It is advisable to establish the fee early in the process. The Civil Legal Aid Scheme may be an option for one or both spouses.

A will is normally made after the separation decree; this should include the appointment of a testamentary guardian for any minor children, and trustees to look after their inheritance should that parent die while a child is still a minor. See page 78.

Divorce

Divorce has been available in Ireland since 27th February 1997. Divorced people are free to remarry. They remain joint guardians of their minor children and responsible for their welfare; minor children are aged under 18. Divorces are usually sought in the Circuit Court, but very wealthy parties might apply to the High Court.

The conditions for granting a divorce are:

· When the proceedings begin, the spouses have lived apart for at least 4 out of the previous 5 years

· There is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation

· There is proper provision for the spouses and dependent members of the family

Some spouses who have been living apart for many years may want a Decree of Divorce only, without looking for any financial package from the other spouse. Their children may now be adults, there are no other issues to be decided between them, and they do not wish to reconcile. In such cases, it is easier to get a relatively early court date, since they will take up little of the court's time. The spouses may not even require a solicitor. They should apply to their local Circuit Court Family Law office who may advise on the procedures to be followed.

It is also possible for the spouses to work out agreed terms of their divorce with the help of their lawyers. Each spouse must make full financial disclosure to the other if maintenance or transfer of assets is being sought by either of them. In these cases, their lawyers will draft Consent Orders which they will bring before the court. Once the court is satisfied that the conditions listed above exist and that the Orders sought are reasonable and agreed by the parties, then the court will grant the Decree of Divorce and confirm the orders put before it.
This speeds up the procedure considerably.

Generally, however, clients will each need to have a solicitor. Their solicitor must advise the client about the counselling and mediation services available to couples whose marriage is in difficulties, and also about the options of a separation agreement or a Judicial Separation as alternatives to divorce. Full financial disclosure must be made by each spouse of all assets and income.

Once the divorce is granted, the orders sought will include some or all of the following which will be made at the same time:

· Provisions relating to children - custody, access, maintenance

· Provisions about the family home:
- whether it is to be sold, and if so, the share of the net proceeds that each spouse will receive
- or if it is to be retained by one spouse and the children
- or transferred from one to the other
- or if one spouse is buying out the interest of the other for full value or at a discount, and so on

· Pension adjustment between the spouses

· Maintenance for a dependent spouse and/or children

· Transfer of any other assets or property between the spouses

· Such other orders as are relevant to the particular circumstances of the parties

The court has very broad discretion as to the orders it may make on granting a divorce. It has to take into account a number of matters such as income, the earning capacity of the parties, family responsibilities before and after the divorce, and so on. Someone who was the nurturer of the family, while the other was the breadwinner, is not to be discriminated against financially on divorce; he/she is entitled to a fair
share of the family assets, including maintenance which is reasonable in the circumstances of the parties.

There can be long delays in getting a court date. So, if one party needs it, the court may make temporary orders such as:

· A Protection Order
· An Interim Barring Order
· A Child Custody Order
· A Maintenance Order
· An Order to preserve the family home, its contents, or other assets

Foreign divorce
Legal recognition of foreign divorces in Ireland is a complex area of law. It is based on the domicile of one of the parties in the foreign jurisdiction where the divorce was granted. Very broadly, a person is domiciled in the legal jurisdiction where at that time they intend spending the rest of their lives. Where one of the parties has such a divorce, legal advice should be sought to establish whether it is recognised under Irish law.

Before the introduction of divorce in Ireland, many Irish people obtained divorces abroad which were not based on domicile. If they have then gone through a marriage ceremony with a new partner, it could be that this second marriage is not a valid marriage. This could lead to serious complications in the long term. The remedy might be to secure an Irish divorce now and to remarry the current spouse afterwards.

Divorces within the European Union
Since 1st March 2001, if a foreign divorce is obtained in any European Union country, it may be recognised as a valid divorce in Ireland, provided the divorce is based on the residency and other requirements of that country. Domicile in that country is not required in these cases. This applies to EU countries only. Outside the EU, the old domicile rule still applies.

While this might reduce the four-year living apart requirement under Irish law, any applicant should note that the different countries have different property and other laws which might not be advantageous to some parties.

Domestic violence
Violence in the home is a crime. The Domestic Violence Act 1996 provides for the protection, safety and welfare of married people, cohabiting couples, parents, children and others living together in a domestic relationship. Safety and welfare includes the physical, emotional and mental welfare of the person in question.

Orders
Under this law, the following protections are available:
· Safety Order
· Barring Order
· Protection Order

If any of these orders are breached by the alleged offender, the Gardai have immediate powers of arrest. The matter comes before the courts as a criminal matter and is heard in open court.

Safety Order
This order prohibits the violent person from further violence or threats of violence against the applicant and his or her dependants. It does not require the alleged offender to leave the home if they are living together. If the applicant and the alleged offender are not staying at the same address, the court can order the alleged offender not to watch, or be in the vicinity of, the applicant's home. A Safety Order will be
granted where the court is of the opinion that the safety and welfare of the applicant or dependants is at risk. The order can be varied according to the circumstances of the case.

The District Court may grant an order for five years. Before it expires, a further application can be made for an extension.

The Circuit Court can grant a Safety Order for an unlimited period.

A Safety Order obtained for the benefit of someone under the age of 18 ceases to be effective when that person comes of age.

The following may apply for a Safety Order:
· A spouse on his/her own behalf, or on behalf of a child

· Any partner who has lived with the alleged offender as husband or wife for at least six of the previous twelve months prior to the application for the Safety Order

· A parent against an adult child

· An adult who lives with the alleged offender in a relationship, the basis of which is primarily not contractual, for instance, not a lodger, nor a tenant

· Relatives, including adoptees, living together

· A health board

Where the relationship is not based on marriage, the court will consider:

· The length of time they have been living together

· The type of duties carried out by either party for the other, or his/her family

· Whether any payment or other consideration is made by one party to the other in respect of living expenses

· Any other matter the court considers appropriate

Barring Order
This is an order which requires that the violent person leaves the family home.

The District Court may grant a Barring Order for up to three years and an application for an extension can be made. These orders may be appealed to the Circuit Court. There is no time limitation on such an order made by the Circuit Court. Once a Barring Order is granted the offender must:

· Leave the home

· May not use, or threaten to use, violence against the applicant

· May not molest the applicant or put them in fear

· May not be in the area where the applicant lives

The following may apply for a Barring Order:

· A spouse on his/her behalf, or on behalf of a child.

· A partner who has lived with an alleged offender as husband and wife for at least six of the previous nine months. Here the applicant must have significant ownership rights in the family home.

· A parent of an adult child, unless the child owns the family home or has greater ownership rights than the parent.

· A health board.

If the offender is allowed back into the home during the barring period, the benefit of the order is lost. When the barring period is over, the offender may return to the home.

Protection Order
While you are waiting for the court to decide on an application for a Barring or Safety Order, the court can give you an immediate order called a Protection Order. It has the same effect as a Safety Order. It is intended to last until the court decides on your case.

Interim Barring Order
In exceptional cases, an Interim Barring Order may be granted where there is evidence of immediate risk and a Protection Order is considered insufficient. This order can be granted without the knowledge of the alleged offender, but that person must be served immediately with a copy of the statement on which the Order was made. A full hearing must take place within eight working days of the Interim Barring Order being made by the court.

Applicants can represent themselves in court, although it is not advisable. You can apply for civil legal aid. It is means tested.

Court clerks can be extremely helpful in filling out application forms.

If you wish to take legal action, you should seek the advice of a lawyer.

Harassment
Under the Non-Fatal Offences against the Person Act 1997, a person may be found guilty of harassment if they persistently follow, watch, pester, beset or communicate with a victim and, in doing so, seriously interfere with that person's peace and privacy, or cause alarm, distress or harm to them. If guilty, the person can be ordered not to communicate with the victim, or not to approach within a certain distance of their place of residence or employment, and to pay a fine or be sent to prison. If not guilty, they may still be ordered not to communicate or approach the victim's home or employment.

Health boards
A health board can apply for a Safety Order or a Barring Order on behalf of individuals where it believes the safety or welfare of the person is at risk.

Further information
A leaflet entitled - Protection from Domestic Violence - is available from the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform.

Maximum rates of social welfare payments from January 2003

Child Benefit from April 2003 payable monthly
1st and 2nd child (each) €125.60
3rd and subsequent child (each) €157.30

One-Parent Family Payment rate per week
Maximum personal rate (aged under 66) €124.80
Maximum personal rate (aged 66 or over) €144.00
Each child dependant €19.30

Widow's/Widower's (Contributory) Pension rate per week
Maximum personal rate (aged under 66) €130.30
Maximum personal rate (aged 66 or over) €155.80
Each child dependant €21.60

Deserted Wife's Benefit rate per week
Maximum personal rate (aged under 66) €130.30
Maximum personal rate (aged 66 or over) €155.80
Each child dependant €21.60

Supplementary Welfare Allowance rate per week
Maximum personal rate €124.80
Each child dependant €16.80

Family Income Supplement
To qualify for Family Income Supplement (FIS), your net average weekly family income must be below a certain amount for your family size.

If you have: your weekly family income is less than:
1 child €379
2 children €405
3 children €430
4 children €455
5 children €487
6 children €513
7 children €534
8 children or more €556

The Family Income Supplement you receive is 60% of the difference between your net family income and the income limit which applies to your family. Your net family income is gross pay less income tax, employee PRSI, health contribution and superannuation.

Note: the minimum supplement is €13 per week.

Maternity Benefit rate per week
Maximum rate €232.40
Minimum rate €141.60

For further details of rates of payment see Social Welfare Rates of Payment 2003 booklet - SW19.

Tax rates and bands 2003

The standard rate of tax is 20% and the top rate is 42%. For the tax year 2003, the 20% rate is charged on:

· The first €28,000 of taxable income for a single person or a widowed person without dependent children

· The first €32,000 of taxable income for widowed people and other lone parents who qualify for the One Parent Family Tax Credit

· The first €37,000 of taxable income for a single-income married couple

· The first €56,000 of taxable income for a two-income married couple

Two-income married couples may only avail of the full €56,000 standard rate band if each earns at least €19,000. If one earns less than this, the standard rate band for them is the amount earned by that person plus €37,000.

Tax credits 2003
Single personal credit €1,520
Married personal credit €3,040
Widowed people €1,820

Additional tax credit for one parent family
widowed people* €1,220
other lone parents €1,520

Employee tax credit €800
Home carer's credit €770
Dependent relative credit €60

Age credit
single or widowed €205
married €410

Incapacitated child credit €500

Blind person's credit
single €800
married, both blind €1,600

* Additional tax credit for widowed people with dependent children

Year of death €2,600
2nd year €2,100
3rd year €1,600
4th year €1,100
5th year €600

Exemption limits

Aged under 65 Aged 65+
Single or widowed person €5,210 €15,000
Married couple €10,420 €30,000
First two children €571 €575 each
Subsequent children €825 €830 each

Useful Addresses

This booklet was compiled by the following organisations which offer information and other services to lone parents and their children.

AIM Family Services
6 D'Olier Street
Dublin 2
Tel: (01) 670 8363
Fax: (01) 670 8365
Email: aimfamilyservices@eircom.net
Website: www.aimfamilyservices.ie
Monday to Friday 10 am-1 pm
Family Law, Mediation and Counselling Centre.
AIM provides counselling, legal information and family mediation.

Cherish
2 Lower Pembroke Street
Dublin 2
LoCall Info Line:
1890 66 22 12
Tel: (01) 662 9212
Fax: (01) 662 9096
Email: info@cherish.ie
Website: www.cherish.ie
Information, advice and support for single pregnant women and unmarried parents.

Comhairle
7th Floor, Hume House
Ballsbridge
Dublin 4
Tel: (01) 605 9000
Fax: (01) 605 9099
Email: info@comhairle.ie
Website: www.comhairle.ie
Comhairle supports the national network of Citizens Information Centres (CICs) which provide a confidential free information service.
Many also provide legal clinics. For details of your local Citizens Information Centre, check Golden Pages or contact Comhairle.
Comhairle's Oasis database at www.oasis.gov.ie provides information on life events, such as having a baby, separation and divorce.

Department of Social and Family Affairs
Information Service
Store Street
Dublin 1
Tel: (01) 874 8444
Fax: (01) 704 3870
Website: www.welfare.ie
The Information Service produces information on the Department's schemes and services.

Gingerbread Ireland
Carmichael House
North Brunswick Street
Dublin 7
Tel: (01) 814 6618
Fax: (01) 814 6619
Email: info@gingerbread.ie
Website: www.gingerbread.ie
National Association for One Parent Families. Provides information, support, social activities, mediation, legal and counselling services.

Treoir
National Information Centre for Unmarried Parents
14 Gandon House
Custom House Square

IFSC
Dublin 1
Tel: (01) 670 0120
Fax: (01) 670 0199
Email: info@treoir.ie
Website: www.treoir.ie
Publishes the Information Pack for Unmarried Parents, other useful publications and a list of local support groups. Provides information,
mediation, legal advice, and counselling services for children, adolescents and adults.

Support and counselling

ACCORD
Columba Centre
Maynooth
Co Kildare
Tel: (01) 505 3112
Fax: (01) 601 6410
Email: admin@accord.ie
Website: www.accord.ie
Marriage counselling service.

AIM Family Services
6 D'Olier Street
Dublin 2
Tel: (01) 670 8363
Fax: (01) 670 8365
Email: aimfamilyservices@eircom.net
Website: www.aimfamilyservices.ie
Monday to Friday
10 am-1 pm

Cherish
2 Lower Pembroke Street
Dublin 2
LoCall Info Line:
1890 66 22 12
Tel: (01) 662 9212
Fax: (01) 662 9096
Email: info@cherish.ie
Website: www.cherish.ie

Doras Buν
Bunratty Drive
Coolock
Dublin 17
Tel: (01) 848 4811
Email: info@dorasbui.org
Website: www.dorasbui.org
A Parents Alone Resource Centre.

Grandparents Obliterated
c/o Parental Equality
54 Middle Abbey Street
Dublin 1
Tel: (01) 872 5392

MRCS Counselling
38 Upper Fitzwilliam Street
Dublin 2
Tel: (01) 678 5256
Fax: (01) 678 5260
Email: info@mrcs.ie
Website: www.mrcs.ie
Marriage and Relationship Counselling Services.

National Association of Widows in Ireland
12 Upper Ormond Quay
Dublin 7
Tel: (01) 677 0977 or
(01) 677 0513

One Parent Exchange & Network (OPEN)
Unit 19
Greendale Shopping Centre
Kilbarrack
Dublin 5
Tel: (01) 832 0264
Fax: (01) 832 0737
Email: enquiries@oneparent.ie
Website: www.oneparent.ie
National network of lone parent family self-help groups. Have database of services and supports around the country.

Parental Equality
54 Middle Abbey Street
Dublin 1
Tel: (01) 872 5222
Email: info@parentalequality.ie
Website: www.parentalequality.ie
Support group for those seeking and practising joint custody and shared parenting.

Parentline
Carmichael House
North Brunswick Street
Dublin 7
Helpline: 1890 92 72 77
Tel: (01) 873 3500
Email: parentline@eircom.net
Website: www.parentline.ie
Helpline for parents under stress.

Treoir
National Information Centre
for Unmarried Parents
14 Gandon House
Custom House Square

IFSC
Dublin 1
Tel: (01) 670 0120
Fax: (01) 670 0199
Email: info@treoir.ie
Website: www.treoir.ie

Department of Social and Family Affairs

Child Benefit Section
Social Welfare Services Office
St Oliver Plunkett Road
Letterkenny
Co Donegal
LoCall: 1890 40 04 00
Tel: (01) 874 8444 or
(074) 25566
Fax: (074) 25614

Information Service
Store Street
Dublin 1
Tel: (01) 874 8444
Fax: (01) 704 3870
Website: www.welfare.ie

Family Income Supplement Section
Social Welfare Services Office
Government Buildings
Ballinalee Road
Longford
Tel: (01) 704 3481 or
(043) 40000
Fax: (01) 704 3461

One-Parent Family Section
Pension Services Office
College Road
Sligo
LoCall: 1890 50 00 00
Tel: (071) 914 8376
Website: www.welfare.ie
Information booklets, leaflets and application forms are available:

· From your local Social Welfare Office
· On the internet at www.welfare.ie or
· By telephoning the
· Department's Leaflet Line at LoCall 1890 20 23 25

Finance and tax

Central Authority for Maintenance Recovery
Bishop's Square
Redmond's Hill
Dublin 2
Tel: (01) 479 0290 or
(01) 479 0287

Central Revenue Information Centre
LoCall: 1890 60 50 90
Website: www.revenue.ie
All enquiries on tax.

FISC (Financial Information Services Centres)
87/89 Pembroke Road
Ballsbridge
Dublin 4
Tel: (01) 637 7361 or (01) 637 7362
Fax: (01) 668 5685
Email: ogormans@icai.ie
Website: www.icai.ie
Contact for details of your local centre.

Money Advice & Budgeting Services (MABS)
Website: www.mabs.ie
Nationwide independent confidential service to help people encountering debt problems to manage their money and gain access to affordable credit. Check locally, for instance, with your local Citizens Information Centre or the Golden Pages to find your nearest MABS Centre.

Housing

Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government
Housing Grants Section
Government Buildings
Ballina
Co Mayo
Tel: (096) 24200
Fax: (096) 70680
Email: pressoffice@
environ.irlgov.ie
Website: www.environ.ie
Information on housing loans and grants. They have a useful series of leaflets on housing matters. These are also available on their website.

FISC - Free Financial Information Service Centres at some Citizens Information Centres, may be helpful in deciding on a loan and/or
mortgage.

Focus Ireland
14a Eustace Street
Dublin 2
Tel: (01) 671 2555
Fax: (01) 679 6843
Email: info@focusireland.ie
Website: www.focusireland.ie
Housing information and advice.

The Housing Welfare Officer in your Local Authority Housing Section can help with applications for accommodation and advice on housing availability.

The Irish Council for Social Housing
50 Merrion Square East
Dublin 2
Tel: (01) 661 8334
Fax: 01 661 0320
Email: info@icsh.ie
Website: www.icsh.ie
The overall body for affiliated organisations of voluntary and co-operative housing.

Private Residential Tenancies Board
Canal House
Canal Road
Dublin 6
Tel: (01) 888 2960
Fax: (01) 888 2819
Email: prtb@environ.irlgov.ie

Rural Resettlement Irl. Ltd
Kilbaha
Kilrush
Co Clare
Tel. (065) 9058034 or
(065) 9058380
Email: rri@iol.ie
Website: www.clarelibrary.ie
Information on various schemes around the country.

Threshold
Dublin Advice Office
21 Stoneybatter
Dublin 7
Tel: (01) 678 6096
Fax: (01) 677 2407
Email: advice@threshold.ie
Website: www.threshold.ie
Cork: (021) 271 250
Galway: (091) 563 080
Advice and information for people with housing problems. They have a useful series of leaflets on housing matters.

Children and child care

An Comhchoiste Reamhscolaiochta
7 Merrion Square
Dublin 2
Tel: (01) 676 3222
Has a list of Irish language playgroups.

Irish Pre-School Playgroups Association
Unit 4, Broomhill Business
Complex
Broomhill Road
Tallaght
Dublin 24
Tel: (01) 463 0010
Email: info@ippa.ie
Website: www.ippa.ie
Has many useful publications available.

Montessori Schools
Helpline: 1890 92 40 74
Has a Directory of AMI
Montessori Schools.

National Childminding Association of Ireland
The Enterprise Park
The Murrough
Wicklow Town
Tel: (0404) 64007
Email: childm@indigo.ie
Website: www.childminding-irl.com
Has a register of members who are childminders and a range of leaflets.

National Children's Nurseries Association
Unit 12c, Bluebell Business Park
Old Naas Road
Bluebell
Dublin 12
Tel: (01) 460 1138
Fax: (01) 460 1185
Email: info@ncna.net
Website: www.ncna.net
Has many useful publications available.

National Children's Resource Centre
Barnardos
Christchurch Square
Dublin 8
Callsave: 1850 22 23 00
Tel: (01) 453 0355
Fax: (01) 453 0300
Email: info@barnardos.ie
Website: www.barnardos.ie
Information on child care.

The Golden Pages also has a listing under Schools - Nursery and Kindergarten.

Each health board has a child and family service for people living within its area. Consult your local telephone directory for your relevant
community care area headquarters.

Birth registration and passports

General Register Office
Joyce House
8-11 Lombard Street East
Dublin 2
Tel: (01) 635 4000
Fax: (01) 633 4440
Website: www.groireland.ie
Responsible for registration of births, deaths and marriages. For local offices, check local telephone directories.

Passport Office
Department of Foreign Affairs
Setanta Centre
Molesworth Street
Dublin 2
Tel: (01) 671 1633
Website: www.gov.ie/iveagh/

Legal

AIM Family Services
6 D'Olier Street
Dublin 2
Tel: (01) 670 8363
Fax: (01) 670 8365
Email: aimfamilyservices@eircom.net
Website: www.aimfamilyservices.ie
Monday to Friday 10 am-1 pm

The Courts Service
Four Courts
Dublin 7
Tel: (01) 888 6000
Website: www.courts.ie
Central Authority for Child Abduction

Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform
43 Mespil Road
Dublin 4
Tel: (01) 667 0344

|Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform
72-76 St Stephen's Green
Dublin 2
Tel: (01) 602 8202
Fax: (01) 661 5461
Website: www.justice.ie

FLAC
(Free Legal Advice Centres)
13 Lower Dorset Street
Dublin 1
Tel: (01) 679 4239
Fax: (01) 679 1554
Email: info@flac.ie
Website: www.flac.ie

Legal Aid Board
(Head Office)
Quay Street
Caherciveen
Co Kerry
Tel: (066) 947 1000

St Stephen's Green House
Earlsfort Terrace
Dublin 2
Tel: (01) 240 0900
Website:www.legalaidboard.ie
For details of local legal aid centres providing civil legal aid, mainly in the area of family law, for people on low incomes. There is a scale of charges according to the means of the client.

Northside Commmunity Law Centre
Northside Civic Centre
Bunratty Road
Coolock
Dublin 17
Tel: (01) 847 7804
Fax: (01) 847 7563
Email: info@ncic.ie
Legal aid and advice.

Domestic violence

AMEN
9-10 Academy Street
Navan
Co Meath
Tel: (046) 23718
Fax: (046) 23718
Email: amen@iol.ie
Website: www.amen.ie
A leaflet - Protection from Domestic Violence - is available from AMEN.

Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform
72-76 St Stephen's Green
Dublin 2
Tel: (01) 602 8202
Fax: (01) 661 5461
Website: www.justice.ie

Women's Aid
Everton House
47 Old Cabra Road
Dublin 7
Helpline: 1800 34 19 00
Tel: (01) 868 4721
Fax: (01) 878 4722
Email: info@womensaid.ie
Website: www.womensaid.ie
Advice and support for women and children being physically, sexually and emotionally abused in their own homes.

Paternity testing

It is advisable to check costs and services provided.

Blackrock Clinic
Blackrock
Co Dublin
Tel: (01) 283 2222
Website: www.blackrock-clinic.ie

Cellmark Diagnostics
PO Box 265
Abingdon
Oxfordshire OX14 1YX
England
Tel: (0044) 1235 528 609
Email: cellmark@orchid.co.uk
Website: www.cellmark.co.uk

Professor James A Houghton
Cytogenetics Unit
National University of Ireland
Galway
Tel: (091) 750384
Fax: (091) 750598
Email:jim.houghton@nuigalway.ie
Website: www.paternitytestingireland.com

Parentage Testing Services
15 Holly Park Avenue
Blackrock
Co Dublin
Tel: (01) 289 4342

Mediation

AIM Family Services
6 D'Olier Street
Dublin 2
Tel: (01) 670 8363
Fax: (01) 670 8365
Email: aimfamilyservices@eircom.net
Website: www.aimfamilyservices.ie
Monday to Friday 10 am-1 pm

Family Mediation Service
Floor 1
St. Stephens Green House
Earlsfort Terrace
Dublin 2
Tel: (01) 634 4320
Fax: (01) 662 2339
Mediation for separating couples.

Gingerbread Ireland
Carmichael House
North Brunswick Street
Dublin 7
Tel: (01) 814 6618
Fax: (01) 814 6619
Email: info@gingerbread.ie
Website: www.gingerbread.ie

Institute of Mediators in Ireland
72 Beechpark Road
Foxrock
Dublin 18
Tel: (01) 661 8488
Email: info@mediatorsinstituteireland.ie

MRCS Counselling
38 Upper Fitzwilliam Street
Dublin 2
Tel: (01) 678 5256
Fax: (01) 678 5260
Email: info@mrcs.ie
Website: www.mrcs.ie
Publicly funded crisis pregnancy counselling agencies

Crisis Pregnancy Agency
4th Floor
89-94 Capel Street
Dublin 1
Tel: (01) 814 6292
Fax: (01) 814 2282
Website: www.crisispregnancy.ie
www.positiveoptions.ie is a website with a directory of agencies which offer advice and counselling to women having an unexpected
pregnancy.

Cherish
2 Lower Pembroke Street
Dublin 2
LoCall Info Line:
1890 66 22 12
Tel: (01) 662 9212
Fax: (01) 662 9096
Email: info@cherish.ie
Website: www.cherish.ie

Cura
Callsave: 1850 62 26 26
Email: cura@iol.ie
Website: www.cura.ie

Dublin Well Woman Centre
Head Office
25 Capel Street
Dublin 1
Tel: (01) 874 9243

35 Lower Liffey Street
Dublin 1
Tel: (01) 872 8051
(01) 872 8095

67 Pembroke Road
Ballsbridge
Dublin 4
Tel: (01) 668 1108 or
(01) 660 9860

Northside Shopping Centre
Coolock
Dublin 5
Tel: (01) 848 4511
Email: info@wellwomancentre.ie
Website: www.wellwomancentre.ie

Irish Family Planning Association
Solomons House
42a Pearse Street
Dublin 2
Tel: (01) 474 0944
Email: post@ifpa.ie
Website: www.ifpa.ie

Life Pregnancy Care Service
Callsave: 1850 28 12 81
Email: life@life.ie
Website: www.life.ie

PACT
15 Belgrave Road
Rathmines
Dublin 6
Callsave: 1850 67 33 33
Email: pact@eircom.net
Website: www.pact.ie

Miscellaneous

Area Development Management (ADM)
Holbrook House
Holles Street
Dublin 2
Tel: (01) 661 3611
Fax: (01) 661 0411
Email: enquiries@adm.ie
Website: www.adm.ie

Equality Authority
Clonmel Street
Dublin 2
Tel: (01) 417 3333
Fax: (01) 417 3366
Email: info@equality.ie
Website: www.equality.ie

FΑS - The Training and Employment Authority
PO Box 456
27-33 Upper Baggot Street
Dublin 4
Tel: (01) 607 0500
Fax: (01) 607 0600
Email: info@fas.ie
Website: www.fas.i

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