"European family law expert Geoffrey Shannon" says we need new legislation because a court ruling yesterday means "unmarried fathers, even where heavily involved with their children, have to go to court to claim their rights of custody." Shannon was commenting a case decided by the European Court of Justice where an unmarried father was deemed to have no right to demand that his children be returned from England, where their mother had taken them. From the Irish Times report it sounds like the mother left for England before court proceedings here could progress.
I feel bad for the father, Mr McB, but I'm at a loss as to what legislation Mr. Shannon wants. The state already provides for two people to declare that they are committed to one another and that they will share the rights and responsibilities of parenthood. It's called marriage.
Mr. McB would have been better off if had married the mother, Ms E. That's obvious now, but it should have been obvious from day 1 of their relationship. That so many unmarried fathers find themselves in such situations would, you would imagine, eventually convince unmarried fathers and, preferably, unmarried men in serious relationships, to MARRY.
This is what marriage is for. Everything else that our Bridezillas and Weddings By Franc society has promoted is unnecessary. Even religion does not have to feature if the couple would prefer. A simply state ceremony will put the relationship on a solid legal foundation. I'm at a loss to understand why so many people have opted out of marriage and why we as a society deem this situation to be of little consequence.