Legal matters concerning children are one of the most complex and sensitive areas of law. At Kee Solicitors, we understand it is of the upmost importance to minimise the distress proceedings may bring for children, so we aim to ensure that these matters are resolved as painlessly as possible.
Parental Rights and Responsibilities
Parental Rights and Responsibilities (PR&Rs) are the rights and responsibilities associated with a parent who is legally responsible for the safeguarding and promotion of their child’s development and welfare. Other legal responsibilities include, guidance, and maintaining and promoting contact as well as the responsibility to act as the child’s legal representative.
It is not always the case that parents will both automatically have PR&Rs. A child’s biological mother automatically acquires PR&Rs at birth, whereas the father will obtain them if: the child’s father is married to the child’s mother at the time of conception or any time after; or where he is not married to the child’s mother but is named as the father on the child’s birth certificate. (This applies for children born after 4 May 2006, but 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.)
Where children are born before 4 May 2006, and the father is not married to the child’s mother and does not marry the mother after the 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 for PR&Rs from the Court or by entering into a PR&Rs Agreement.
It is also possible for more than two individuals to hold PRR at one time. Quite often Step-Parents, Grandparents or other third parties who “claim an interest” in the child can apply for PR&Rs by way of a Parental rights and responsibilities agreement or by court order. At Kee Solicitors, we will happily assist in resolving any of these issues.
Residence is the term that describes whom the child will live with on a daily basis and was previously known as ‘custody’. It is possible that following a separation, a child will live with one parent, or that the child’s residence will be split between both parties.
Individuals who have PR&Rs in relation to a child, have a legal right to have the child reside with them.
If two individuals holding PR&Rs cannot agree where the child will be residing, they can apply to the court who will then make the decision about the child’s residence. A Court in making any decision on the child’s residence, and will take in to account the child’s welfare when deciding whether to grant the Residence Order.
Contact is the legal term that describes the specified times and dates that the non-residing parent has with their child. This was previously known as access.
A non-residing parent is the parent who the child doesn’t live with on a daily basis. If two individuals both possess PR&Rs and cannot agree on the extent of the contact a child should have with the non-residing parent, they may wish to apply to the court for assistance with the matter. The court has the power to decide on and resolve the dispute, the court will give great importance to the child’s welfare when making the decision. A parent who holds PR&Rs 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 daily basis.
It is also important to note that in Scots Law, grandparents do not have any immediate rights regarding contact with their grandchildren. The Court will however, consider the child’s welfare to a large degree when assessing the appropriateness of any Court orders.
The court may order direct contact, allowing unsupervised or supervised visits, or allow the child to stay with the non-residing parent temporarily. In some cases, the court order will only allow indirect contact, such as email or telephone calls. Alternatively, if you are an unmarried parent or another relevant person in the child’s life and are looking to have more structured involvement in the child’s life, contact us to find out what steps can be taken to assist you with this.