Child Access Rights in Scotland

Understanding Parental Responsibilities and Rights (PRRs)

Parents have a wide range of responsibilities and rights when it comes to their child’s well-being. This includes the duty to safeguard and promote the child’s health, welfare, and development. Additionally, parents have the right to have a say in where the child lives, be actively involved in their upbringing, act as their legal representative, and maintain personal relations and contact with the child even if they don’t live together.

Unmarried Dads and Rights on the Birth Certificate

In cases where a father is not married to the child’s mother and is not listed on the birth certificate, they will not automatically have parental responsibilities and rights. However, it is possible for the father to obtain these rights through a court order or by reaching a written agreement with the child’s mother. It’s important to note that fathers who are named on birth certificates registered on or after May 4, 2006, have full parental responsibilities and rights. For more details, refer to our dedicated section on this topic.

Protecting the Child’s Best Interests

When making decisions about a child, the court’s primary consideration is the child’s best interests. It is crucial to prioritize the child’s welfare rather than the preferences or desires of the parents. Research consistently shows that it is beneficial for a child to have both parents actively involved in their life. While in the past, Scottish law often designated one parent as the “resident” parent and the other as the “contact” parent, shared care arrangements are becoming more common. Shared care doesn’t necessarily mean equal time-sharing but emphasizes both parents’ participation in all aspects of their children’s lives. Unless there are compelling reasons such as domestic abuse, substance abuse, or other threats to the child’s well-being, it is important to promote and facilitate contact between a father and child with parental responsibilities and rights.

Relocating a Child with Consent

If a parent plans to relocate abroad with a child, they must obtain the other parent’s consent if that parent has parental responsibilities and rights. If consent is not given, an application to the court is necessary to seek permission to relocate. The court will assess the situation and determine whether the relocation is in the child’s best interests. Even in cases where the parent intends to move within the United Kingdom, consultation with the other parent is essential, as important welfare decisions should involve both parents. Recent court decisions indicate that relocation within the UK might require court approval, and the non-relocating parent can apply for an order preventing the move. Mediation and open discussions between parents are always encouraged to resolve such matters without involving the court.

Tailoring Contact for Fathers

There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to determining the contact a father is entitled to. The specific circumstances of each case, including the family routine, geography, work schedules, and personal circumstances, must be taken into account. The welfare of the child remains the top priority. For some children, frequent and shorter contacts work well, while others may thrive in a shared care or alternating-week routine. It is crucial to review and assess the contact arrangement regularly to ensure it aligns with the child’s needs and happiness. Children’s thoughts and opinions should be considered, and parents should strive to explain the separation in a child-friendly manner, providing them with practical information about living arrangements, school, hobbies, and friendships. The law recognizes children’s right to be heard, and it’s important to involve them without burdening them with final decisions.

Remember, each case is unique, and seeking legal advice can provide further guidance tailored to your specific situation.