Couples in civil partnerships will be able to become legal guardians to their partner's children, under legislation to be published today.
The draft version of the Child and Family Relationships Bill will mark the first time in Irish law that children raised by same-sex couples can have a legal relationship with both parents.
The new legislation aims to give legal security to so-called 'non-tradiitonal' families - and will give greater legal clarity to situations where a child is being raised by a grandparent, or a former step-parent.
But the most prominent aspect will be the move to give a greater legal role to same-sex couples in raising children, by allowing the non-biological parent to become the child's legal guardian.
This will mean the end of some situations where, for example, a child can be blocked from visiting their non-biological parent in hospital.
There are also some complications surrounding inheritance procedures when a non-biological parent dies - as the child is not seen as a relative in the eyes of the law.
The bill also overhauls Ireland's laws on surrogacy.
From now on, if a birth mother agrees, both partners in a couple can be recognised as a child's legal parents - though only if the child is born in Ireland.