Parental Rights and Responsibilities in Scotland – A Helpful Guide

When a relationship ends there can, on occasion, be disputes over the care of a child or children. The overriding principle is that the welfare of the child is paramount. Whilst this are of law can be complex to navigate Walker Laird’s family lawyers in Paisley have considerable experience in dealing with these types of cases.

We understand that a child is the most important part of a parent’s life. The care arrangements for that child are a sensitive matter and we understand for many people it can be an emotional and overwhelming experience having to consult a lawyer regarding the care arrangements for a child.

Many parents wish to know their rights in relation to their child. If the parents of the child are married then both parents will have equal rights and responsibilities. If the parents of the child are not  married, the father of the child will need to be registered as the child’s father on the child’s birth certificate in order to have parental rights and responsibilities.

So what does that mean? Let’s start with parental rights. Your parental rights are your right to :-

  • have the child live with you or to decide where the child should live;
  • to control, direct or guide the upbringing of the child;
  • to maintain a relationship with the child and have direct contact with the child if the child is not living with that parent; and
  • to act as the child’s legal representative.

Things can get difficult when each parent, who have the same rights, wish to exercise them differently. One parent may wish for the child to live with them and the other may wish for the child to live with them. In those circumstances, our family lawyers in Paisley and Renfrew, can assist by writing to the other parent to try and discuss matters with the hope that an agreement can be reached. One question we are regularly asked by clients is how often am I entitled to see my child? There is no set number of days provided for by law. The law states that any arrangement made regarding the care of the child must be an arrangement that is in the best interests of the child. It is not what is best for the parents.

If agreement still cannot be reached through correspondence, then it may be the case that a court action has to be raised and the Sheriff will make a decision about what he or she thinks is best for the child. That is always a last resort as it removes the control of the care of the child from the parents and puts the control into the hands of a Sheriff. Our family lawyers in Paisley and Renfrew regularly appear in Courts throughout Scotland and have many years of experience in this area.

Now lets talk about responsibilities. If you have parental rights, you also have parental responsibilities. These include:-

  • Safeguarding and promoting the child’s health, development and welfare
  • Providing the child with direction and guidance
  • Maintaining personal relations and direct contact with the child on a regular basis if the child is not living with one parent; and
  • To act as the child’s legal representative.

Parental responsibilities are very important. It is important to note that a parent must exercise their parental responsibilities in order to exercise their parental rights. Simply having rights is not always enough to exercise them. Rights and Responsibilities come hand in hand with one another. If one parent is failing to exercise responsibilities over a child the other parent may make an argument that that parent’s rights should be limited or restricted. In extreme circumstances, an application can be made to the court to remove a parent’s rights and responsibilities.

No two cases involving the care of a child are the same. Each case needs to be discussed in detail with one of our family lawyers in Paisley or Renfrew who will give in depth tailored advice. We offer a wide range of funding options including legal aid and payment plans. We can provide you with helpful and practical advice to ensure the best outcome for your child. Get in contact today!