Trusted advice on legal issues regarding children
When dealing with a breakdown in a relationship between parents, children are often placed in a difficult and life changing situation. By making your separation or divorce process as smooth as possible, our Team of Family lawyers can help ensure that this life change does not have a detrimental effect your children's wellbeing and happiness.
Our Team includes accredited specialists in Child Law and they are experienced in dealing with all legal issues regarding children, such as: divorce and separation, parental rights and responsibilities, residence/custody, contact /access, abduction and relocation, child maintenance and adoption. Our full range of Child Law services means that no matter what circumstances you find yourself in, we can assist you.
For a free initial discussion about our Child Law services and how we can help you, please call our Inverness Team on 01463 795 035. Our Team can assist you throughout the whole of the Highlands & Islands region, including Thurso, Caithness, Moray, Nairn, Ross-shire, Skye, Stornoway, Sutherland and Orkney.
Frequently Asked Questions about Child Law
A parent has the legal responsibility to:
- Safeguard and promote a child’s health, development and welfare
- Provide direction and guidance to the child in a manner appropriate to the stage of the child’s development and welfare
- If the child is not living with them, to maintain personal relations and direct contact with the child on a regular basis
- To act as the child’s legal representative
In order to fulfil those responsibilities a parent has the legal right to:
- Have the child living with the parent or otherwise to regulate the child’s residence
- To control, direct or guide the child’s upbringing in a manner appropriate to the child’s stage of development
- If the child does not live with the parent, to maintain personal relations and direct contact with the child on a regular basis
- To act as the child’s legal representative
A child’s biological mother automatically acquires PP&Rs at birth
A father will automatically obtain PR&Rs in two situations:
- Where the child’s father is married to the child’s mother at the time of conception or anytime thereafter.
- Where he is not married to the child’s mother but he is named as the father of the child on the child’s birth certificate. (This only applies to children born after 4 May 2006).
- For a child born before 4 May 2006, if the father is not married to the child’s mother and does not marry the mother after birth, despite being named as the child’s father on the child’s birth certificate, that father will not hold PR&Rs without obtaining an Order of PR&Rs from the Court. Furthermore, if the father was not married and not named on the child’s birth certificate he will not possess PR&Rs.
- For a child born after 4 May 2006, if the father is not married to the child’s mother and does not marry the mother, if the father is named as child’s father on the birth certificate he will acquire PR&Rs. If the mother does not consent to this taking place, the father will be required to obtain an Order from the Court conferring PR&Rs.
- It is also possible for more than two individuals to hold PR&Rs at one time. Quite often Step parents, Grandparents or other third parties claiming an interest can obtain PR&Rs by way of agreement or by way of a Court Order.
The term Residence is the legal term to describe the arrangement whereby a child lives on a day to day basis with a specified person. This was previously known as 'custody'.
It is possible following a separation for a child to reside with one parent, or alternatively for the residence of the children to be split between both parties.
Individuals, who have Parental Rights and Responsibilities in relation to a child, have a legal right to have a child reside with them.
If two individuals holding parental rights and responsibilities cannot agree on where a child should reside, they can apply to the court to make a decision on the matter. A Court in making any decision on where a child is to reside, will regard the child's welfare as the paramount consideration and will consider whether the order is necessary and in the best interests of the child.
The term Contact is the legal term used to describe the specified times and dates that a non-resident parent has time with their children. Contact was previously known as 'access'.
A non-resident parent is the parent who the child does not live with on a day to day basis.
If two individuals holding parental rights and responsibilities cannot agree on the extent of the contact a child should have with a non-resident parent, they may apply to the court to make a decision on the matter. A Court in making any decision on where a child is to reside will regard the child's welfare as the paramount consideration and will consider whether the order is necessary and in the best interests of the child.
A person who holds Parental Rights and Responsibilities for a child has a legal right to have regular and consistent contact with the child if the child does not live with them on a day to day basis.
After a separation, it is usual that two parents will begin to live separately. However, for employment, family support, financial or other reasoning this may involve one parent who could be the primary carer of the children wishing to relocate with the children to another town, city or even country. Such relocations can clearly have significant impacts on the parties separating but also on the relationship between both parents and their children.
The implications of proposed relocations vary greatly on the particular circumstances of a case and the logistics of the relocation.
For the majority of individuals who may have had no direct experience of an adoption, the process is likely to be quite daunting with the thought of their lives being assessed. The purpose of the Adoption procedure is to ensure that every child is given an opportunity to develop in a safe, healthy and nurtured environment during their childhood. By obtaining expert legal advice and guidance at the outset when considering adopting, the entire process can be clarified and often in turn into an exciting positive experience for the applicant’s.
Adoptions usually arise in unfortunate circumstances whereby a child has been placed at risk or is in need of long term care for the remainder of their childhood. However, not all adoptions arise from unfortunate circumstances; Step Parent Adoptions in Scotland have risen in the last decade. This usually occurs whereby a step parent wishes to formally adopt a child of their partner.
An Adoption is the legal process whereby Parental Rights and Responsibilities (hereinafter referred to as PR&Rs) of a child’s natural parent or parents are extinguished and equivalent PR&Rs are conferred upon the adopting parent or parents. An adoption is a permanent step resulting in an adopted child thereafter being deemed to have always been a child of the adopters.
In Scotland, child maintenance is a legal requirement that non-resident parents should pay. The Child Maintenance Service is the government body who deals with matters regarding the payment of child maintenance. The Child Maintenance Service was previously known as the Child Support Agency.
The amount of child maintenance payable by one parent to the other is determined on a number of factors which are regularly updated by the Child Maintenance Service. However, the extent of the payments required are based upon; the amount of gross earnings of the non-resident parent or whether they are in receipt of state benefits, how many nights per year the non-resident parent has contact with the child, the number of children and the amount of other children the non-resident parent may be paying child maintenance for.
The Child Maintenance Service offers a support and advice website known as Child Maintenance Options which also includes a calculator for establishing the amount of child maintenance payable. It is however possible to reach agreement between parents in writing on the amount of child maintenance which should be paid. This option avoids the additional charges which may apply from the Child Maintenance Service if they are required to enforce the payment of child maintenance.
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