FAQs

This section gives short responses to many of the questions that Shared Parenting Scotland is asked.  Links within the answer lead to more detailed information.  If you need more information on any of these topics please contact us on 0131 557 2440 or by email to info@sharedparenting.scot.

This site offers legal information, not legal advice.  We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information and to clearly explain your options.  However we do not provide legal advice – the application of the law to your individual circumstances. For legal advice, you should consult a lawyer.

Certificates & Documents

A child’s name can be changed through National Records of Scotland (https://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/registration/recording-change-of-forename-and-surname-in-scotland). A parent who has parental rights and responsibilities can object to the child’s surname being changed, although this opposition can be over-ruled by a court decision. In a recent name change decision (https://www.sharedparenting.scot/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/name-change-decision.pdf) the children were given the surnames of both parents.

If possible, try to persuade the mother to add your name. There are forms for you and her to fill in and this adds your name to the birth certificate. See here for more details. If she doesn’t agree to do this, you can raise it in court at the same time as obtaining a contact order. If she disputes that you are the father you can ask for a DNA test – do this via the Child Maintenance Service if you are being asked to pay maintenance.

Child Support/ Maintenance

An assessment of child maintenance remains in place for 12 months unless income has increased or decreased by at least 25%.  If your income change is 25% or more, request a revision or supersession. Lesser changes will be included in the annual recalculation. Other changes such as an increase in the number of nights that a child stays with you above the 52, 104 or 156 night thresholds in the past year, becoming responsible for a child in a new family or a 16-19 year old child leaving full-time, non-advanced education will reduce maintenance liability.  Further details can be found here or by contacting Child Maintenance Options.

The Child Maintenance Service only deals with child maintenance for parents living in the UK (or working abroad for a few UK agencies). See this link for information on how to deal with maintenance from someone who lives in another country.

We have recently launched the Shared Parenting Scotland website and are continuing to develop the content, please bear with us whilst this happens. In the meantime, if you have specific questions, please contact us (https://www.sharedparenting.scot/contact/)

When both parents are looking after their children for equal amounts of time neither of them should be assessed by the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) to pay maintenance.  Equal care is not just equal numbers of overnights – it relates to day-to-day care. If there is a dispute about whether maintenance should be due,  the CMS sometimes wrongly presumes that the parent who receives child benefit should receiving maintenance.  But according to an Upper Tribunal Decision evidence provided about the equality of day-to-day care by both parents can be used to decide neither parent pays maintenance even when one of them is in receipt of child benefit.  See also this decision and  this decision 

If separated parents cannot agree on the amount of money that has to be paid to the parent who has the majority of care of the children then the Child Maintenance Service formula is used.nnThis calculation is based on the income of the paying parent and the number of children that have to be supported.  Factors such as the number of nights the children spend with the other parent and whether that parent is also responsible for maintaining other children. Further details can be found here or by contacting Child Maintenance Options

On the child maintenance front, payments are made based on an overall assessment of how much needs to be contributed by the paying parent, rather than for specific purposes.

The person paying has no control over what the money is spent on.  Once payment  of the assessed amount has been made there is no obligation on the paying parent to contribute any more money, but it also doesn’t stop the paying parent from contributing more voluntarily.  Often people do this to keep things sweet or when unexpected expenses are incurred.  If both parents are struggling financially this will be difficult, but it is worth trying to keep on good terms if possible.

A maintenance calculation stops when a child aged 16 or over leaves non-advanced education or becomes too old to be counted as a child.  Non-advanced education is up to Higher, Advanced Higher or SVQ level 3 and below.

Young people aged from 16 to 19 qualify for child support if they are still in full-time non-advanced education – more than 12 hours of weekly contact time. After leaving school or college a young person still counts as being in full-time education until child benefit stops being paid.

Parents also have an obligation to support children up to age 25  if they are “reasonably and appropriately undergoing instruction at an educational establishment, or training for employment or for a trade, profession or vocation”.   The amounts to be paid aren’t subject to a formula like child support, and both parents are liable.  The young person would have to raise a court action to enforce payment.

Christmas & Holidays

If your court action requests time with your child at Christmas remember that the sheriff will only consider the childrens feelings, not yours. Some sheriffs will agree to splitting the day between parents, whereas others are more likely to agree to let you have them on Christmas day on alternate years. You might even come up against a very old-fashioned sheriff who feels that children should be with their mother at Christmas. Your lawyer should know what the local sheriff are like. Try asking for what you think is reasonable but be prepared to back down quickly if there is resistance – if you can show you are being reasonable and willing to negotiate that will strengthen your case. See the factsheet on Christmas.

Contact

Category: Contact

The Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 introduces penalties for abusive behaviour towards a partner or ex-partner that a reasonable person would consider would be likely to cause physical or psychological harm to that person.  We consider LINK that the controlling behaviour in some contact disputes could be within the scope of this legislation.  The Act has only been in force since April 2019 and we wait for this to be tested in court.

Category: Contact

An appeal judgement overturned a non-harassment order which would have prevented a father from seeing his children after he had been convicted of breach of the peace. In the appeal judgement, delivered by Lord Brodie, it was concluded that as the children in this family were not the victims for which the non-harassment order was made, the original Sheriff was wrong in making an order that would prevent contact with them.

Category: Contact

Married parents with children under 16 have to include consideration of arrangements for their children if they are divorcing or dissolving a civil partnership.  Try to reach agreement about these arrangements, using the parenting agreement guidelines.  Family mediation will help you reach this agreement, but if you still can’t agree it may be necessary to go to court.

Category: Contact

For older children, it is sometimes best to pick up and drop off children at school, rather than at the house of the other parent. Handovers can be a hard to manage both for parents and children, and if arguments cannot be avoided then this is one way to make things easier. Children can find the transition from one parent to the other very difficult, as it a time when their loyalty to each of their parents is tested. It’s not unusual for children to become withdrawn or distressed at this time, which sometimes leads to both parents getting the false impression that something is wrong in the other household. Try your best to remain calm and positive if the handover is with the other parent, and if difficult things are said just don’t be provoked into responding. Attending a Parenting Apart (https://www.relationships-scotland.org.uk/family-support/parenting-apart-groups) course or training organised by Shared Parenting Scotland helps to build up the skills to deal with these situations.n

Category: Contact

There are many ways of dividing the time that children spend with each parent. Factors such are how far apart the parents live, work patterns, the age of the children and whether child maintenance can be agreed can affect what works for each family. Here are some of the patterns that are commonly in use:nnWeek about – children spend one full week in one household and the next week in the other household.nSplit weeks – the children spend four days with one parent then three with the other, reversing this pattern the next week.nDays about – may be best for young children so that they do not spend too much time away from either parent.nnWhen the children are at school age it is also necessary to work out a pattern for the holidays that allows for longer periods with each parent.

Category: Contact

During supervised contact a staff member to be present throughout the period of contact.nThe level at which staff members are involved in contact will vary depending on centre policy and the requirements of contact. Generally supervisors will abstain from intervening as much as possible but will provide support to the parties and children where required.nSupervised contact will result in a written report being completed by the supervisor which isnthen sent on to parties solicitors and the court. During supported contact staff members will be present but will not take specific notes or monitor conversations.nnSee our Child Contact Centre User Guide for further information. LINK

Court & Law

Category: Court & Law

If your family law case is being conducted in Scotland you can apply for legal aid, even if you do not live in Scotland.  You will need to show that you can’t afford to pay for legal help yourself, and that the problem is serious.  Legal aid is means tested, so you may be asked to pay some of the cost yourself.  See the Scottish Legal Aid Board SLAB) web site to assess whether you will qualify on financial grounds.  Two types of legal aid are available: advice and assistance to pay for the initial help and legal correspondence, and civil legal aid if the case has to go to court.  You have to use a solicitor, and only some law firms will make legal aid applications – see the SLAB list

Category: Court & Law

A court judgement can only be appealed if you can show that a legal mistake has been made in reaching the original decision.  You cannot just go back over the issues in the case.  It is important to act quickly as there is only a short time available to make an appeal.

Category: Court & Law

If you feel your lawyer isn’t representing you properly or have another complaint you need to discuss this issue with the lawyer and then with the “client relations manager” in that law firm.  If this doesn’t settle your complaint, you should contact the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC). See their website and also their booklet on family law complaints. The SLCC may pass some or all of the complaint on to the Law Society of Scotland to deal with “conduct” issues

Category: Court & Law

Both the Law Society and Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB) web sites include lists of lawyers who specialise in child contact cases, although the SLAB list only covers law firms which do legally aided work.  The Family Law Association website can be searched to find their members by location or speciality.  Shared Parenting Scotland does not give any recommendations, but we can provide a list of the lawyers who attend our local group meetings

Category: Court & Law

This handbook was prepared to describe how public and private family law cases are handled in England, Wales and Scotland.  It’s a useful guide to the different systems, although you should also check for any changes which have taken place since it was published in 2018.

Category: Court & Law

The form that is submitted to court to start a case is called a writ. Subsequent court forms are called “motions” or “minutes to vary”. The initial writ consists of a note of what you are asking the court to decide (craves), background to why this is necessary (condescendence) and a statement of which laws you are using to make this request (pleas in law). See our guide to representing yourself {LINK}.

Category: Court & Law

Failing to make children available for court ordered contact might lead to a finding of contempt of court, but this penalty isn’t likely after only one or two occasions – see our article on this topic here.

Start by asking calmly and politely why the children cannot come this time, and if the other parent uses this as an opportunity to create a fuss or complain about you then just stop the conversation or walk away.  It doesn’t help your children if they see their parents arguing.  Arguments on the doorstep often result in one person being arrested, usually the person who has obtained the court order.

Keep a careful note of all that happens on these occasions, and seek advice from your lawyer about what can be done.

Category: Court & Law

We always advise people that it is best to have a lawyer if you are taking court, but we know that some people either can’t afford representation or have had such poor legal support in the past that they end up conducting their own case in court.  Our Guide will help you LINK and we may also be able to  link you with a lay supporter LINK.  It is also worth trying to find a lawyer who can comment on what you are putting on the court papers before submitting them.  There will be a cost for this service, but it costs far less than full representation and can help you avoid making errors in the way you present your case.

Category: Court & Law

In order to defend yourself against an allegation which you dispute, our first advice is to remain calm and avoid doing anything which could be used against you.  Because of the adversarial nature of child contact court cases, many allegations are made in order to criticise the other parent.  The court will always want to see proof rather than just unsupported statements, and it will consider whether any statements are credible.

Category: Court & Law

You call the sheriff  “My Lady” or “My Lord”.  The other thing that you have to do in court is to stand up when the sheriff enters at the start and also when he or she leaves the end of the hearing.  A court official will say “Court Rise” when this is due to happen.  In theory you should stand up when saying things to the court, but in many child welfare hearings the sheriff will indicate that this does not need to happen.  Don’t worry too much if you don’t always manage to do these things, as long as you can show that you are taking the court seriously and showing respect.  Remember also that the sheriff can see your facial expressions very clearly, so don’t react with grimaces or shaking your head when things are said that you don’t agree with.  (Most family cases are heard in the Sheriff Court, but the same applies to Court of Session hearings.)

Categories: Court & Law, Other

Proof hearings, in which both sides present evidence in support of their case,  only happen in a small proportion of family court cases, when agreement cannot be reached.  Obtaining sworn affidavits from your witnesses and ensuring that all relevant information is lodged with the court are important parts of the preparation.  If you are representing yourself you need to prepare questions for witnesses.  Our guide to representing yourself in the family court covers this topic in more detail.

Category: Court & Law

Wear a suit if you have one or at least a shirt and tie and smart trousers (not shorts even if it is hot). Women should also dress in smart or businesslike clothes. Although there are no rules about what to wear it is far better to show you are respecting the court and the importance of the hearing by dressing in this way. Remember that you will be under the radar from the moment you step into the court room so don’t make gestures or faces when the other side says something provocative – just keep calm and try to relax.

Category: Court & Law

Despite a recent comment by a senior Scottish Judge that “The time taken to resolve disputes about contact should not be measured in years but in weeks or at most months.” LINK it usually takes at least two months to raise a court case in Scotland.

Category: Court & Law

If you have been arrested in connection  with a contact dispute the police will try to ask you questions, saying that this is your chance to say what happened.  Resist this temptation and give a “no comment” answer to these questions until you have taken advice from a criminal lawyer. We give this advice because it can often be inadvisable to say anything at this stage of the process, apart from giving your name, address and age.

Category: Court & Law

Remember that your lawyer is undertaking a professional service for you and try to keep your enquiries to the practical aspects of your case.   It is very likely that you also need emotional support and reassurance if you are experiencing a separation and not seeing your children, but try to avoid using your lawyer for this more than is absolutely necessary.   Your legal bill will increase substantially if you ask too many questions.   If you are receiving legal aid remember that legal aid rates are not generous, and lawyers who are being paid through legal aid may be restricting what they do to the most important aspects of the case.

Bearing in mind the above advice, do take action if your lawyer is not answering key legal questions – see Complaints against lawyers LINK

Healthcare

Category: Healthcare

If both parents have parental rights and responsibilities they should have equal rights to obtain health information about their children, unless there is a court order preventing one of both of them from having this information.  In practice the parent who has most care of the children may restrict or prevent this communication.  Health providers can be reluctant to go against such restrictions, and we would suggest that it is best to make a formal request by letter or email to a senior staff member if this problem occurs.  For children aged 12 or above, the health provider has to respect the views of a child or young person if they don’t want one or both of their parents to receive information (Gillick Competent)  The British Medical Association issues BMA Parental Responsibility guidance on this issue.

Category: Healthcare

Despite recent concerns about MMR vaccination, there now seems to be widespread agreement that the routine childhood vaccinations are very worthwhile.  The onus is on the parent who refuses a vaccination for their child to take court action to prevent it.  A recent English appeal judgement supported a local authority which wanted to vaccinate a child against the  wishes of the parents.  Anyone arguing in favour of child vaccinations should be able to use this to reinforce their case if the issue goes to court.  A more recent English judgement concluded that refusal of Covid vaccination by one parent could also be overcome.

Housing

Category: Housing

Parents who rely on housing benefit may only be able to take shared accommodation without bedroom space for their children to stay with them. Most single people under 35 in the private rented sector are restricted to the shared accommodation rate (SAR); their housing benefit is set at a level to cover the rent on a room in a shared house. New applicants may have to apply for Universal Credit rather than Housing Benefit. For further information on housing issues see the Shelter Scotland (https://scotland.shelter.org.uk/get_advice) or Citizens Advice Scotland (https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/scotland/) sites.

Other

Category: Other

The 1995 Children (Scotland) Act says that the court should allow a child to express views and have regard to them as far as possible.  It also says that the court should take account if the child’s age and maturity and that “a child twelve years of age or more shall be presumed to be of sufficient age and maturity to form a view” (section 6). The 2020 Children (Scotland) Act removes this mention of age 12.  Although that legislation hadn’t been enacted at February 2024 the court will now consider the views of much younger children.  Whatever the age, the views of a child are not the deciding factor, although the older the child the more impact their views will have on the final decision.

Category: Other

If a move means that it will be more difficult to maintain regular contact with the children it may be possible to oppose this move in the court or have the children returned.  Each case will be considered on its own circumstances, and the court will decide on the basis of what is best for the children, not what is best for one of their parents.   You cannot prevent the other parent from moving, but it may be possible to stop a move by your children.nnIt is possible to object to a move within Scotland or to another part of the UK, not just to a move to another country.  Don’t delay in taking action, as it is harder to force a return if children have settled in a new location.

Category: Other

When civil legal aid is applied for to take a case to court the Legal Aid Board writes to that person’s opponent to tell that that legal aid is being considered.  This letter will include a copy of the applicants statement about the case.  You can write to the Legal Aid board giving reasons why you oppose legal aid.  This can either challenge whether they are financially entitled to receive legal aid or say that it is unreasonable for public money to be spent on the case.  For example, you could say that an offer to take part in family mediation has not been accepted.  Further information is available on the Legal Aid Board site

Category: Other

If the children are being taken to live outside the UK you can take action to have them returned so that a Scottish court can decide whether this removal should be allowed.  Consult a lawyer who has experience in such cases and see the Scottish Government guidance.  If the children have been taken to a country which is part of the Hague Convention this process will be easier.  You can also seek support from the Central Authority for Scotland and Reunite If the children are simply being taken for a holiday, you should have been asked to give your agreement if you have parental rights and responsibilities. Rather than making this into a conflict, we suggest that you should agree to holiday trips and offer to provide the other parent with a letter giving your authority in case there is any problem when leaving the UK. In return you can ask for details of the trip. Trying to stop a holiday trip won’t be popular with the children, and if you go to court to try and stop it you may find that a sheriff will allow the trip and you risk being accused of controlling behaviour.

Category: Other

Some types of child vaccination such as MMR have attracted opposition, and this is also happening with Coronavirus vaccines for children. If parents don’t agree whether a child should be vaccinated, the matter can be raised in court. The matter becomes more complicated if only the mother has parental rights and responsibilities or if a child is in care of the local authority. A recent English court judgement  endorses the wisdom and efficacy of vaccination and places the onus on the parent who opposes vaccination to raise court action to stop the vaccination – see this roundup article for more background. A more recent English judgment applies this to Covid vaccination

Category: Other

There is no single answer. There is no legal requirement to. It is your business. But if/when she finds out you are likely to be asked why you kept it secret.  The practical issue is whether your children come to know about this relationship. In most cases it is sensible to keep your relationship with a new partner separate from your relationship with your children for quite a while until you know what the new relationship is going to be.  Here are a few more ideas.

Category: Other

Legal Aid for Family Law cases looks at the financial status of the applicant, or the applicant and their partner if they share a home together.

If an applicant lives in their own home without a live-in partner, they are treated as an individual.

If the applicant and their partner live in separate homes, then the partner’s status would generally be ignored. Evidence of separate homes might include separate Council Tax and utility bills at their separate addresses. This does not prevent either the partner or the applicant staying over at each other’s homes. The test is more to do with the presence and maintenance of separate homes.

If they share a home, then both the applicant and their partner’s financials would be pooled.

If they live separately, but already have joint assets &/or income, then the applicant’s share of these (where relevant) should be disclosed for their solicitor and SLAB to consider.

The Scottish Legal Aid Board Calculator is here  also see more legal aid information here.

Category: Other

The Child Maintenance Service only deals with child maintenance for parents living in the UK (or working abroad for a few UK agencies).  See this link for information on how to deal with maintenance from someone who lives in another country.

Category: Other

At present there are various ways for obtaining children’s views during a dispute about contact. The court can issue an form-f09 (https://www.sharedparenting.scot/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/form-f09.doc) for children to indicate their views. The sheriff can talk to a child or order a Child Welfare Reporter (https://www2.gov.scot/Resource/0049/00498001.pdf) to prepare a report to court. The legislation that is being currently considered by the Scottish Parliament will include consideration of a range of other ways in which children can give their views and also whether feedback can be given to them about what the court decides. Shared Parenting Scotland considers that it is also very important to let the child know that their views are important but will not be the deciding factor, and also that any person who is obtaining children’s views should properly trained. If the Scottish Parliament also incorporates the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scottish law there may be further changes.n

Categories: Other, Parenting Agreement

A parenting agreement sets out what has been decided between parents on the arrangements for the children, usually in connection with separation.  There is a model structure for such agreements published by the Scottish Government as a Parenting Plan.  Parents who find it difficult to reach agreement can try using Family Mediation as a way of putting an agreement together.  Lawyers can also assist in making an agreement, and then make it more official by registering it with the court.

Category: Other

Unmarried fathers whose name is not on the child’s birth certificate or whose child was born before 4th of May 2006 do not have parental rights and responsibilities (PRRs) for that child.  PRRs can be obtained easily if the mother agrees to sign and register an agreement that gives the father PRRs.  If the mother does not agree to sign this form, the father can go to court to seek PRRs, often doing this at the same time as seeking a contact order.

Category: Other

If day-to-day care of children is shared equally between parents then neither parent is treated as “non-resident” and so there is no liability for child support to be paid.  The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) will accept a shared care court order or written agreement as proof of equal care.  If you don’t have either you can submit a summary of care arrangements over the past year.

For equal care the CMS has to consider overall care arrangements, not simply overnights,  This Upper Tribunal case decision has more detail on this.  See also our Notes from  CMS  training.

Category: Other

Community disclosure enables parents, carers or guardians of children under 18 years old to make a formal request for the disclosure of information about a named person who may have contact with their child if they are concerned that he or she might be a registered child sexual offender. The process is described here.

Category: Other

Fathers in the UK may be eligible for one or two weeks of paid paternity leave, paternity pay and shared parental leave and pay.  See the government web site for full details.  Employment issues like this are not devolved to the Scottish Government.  This level of support for fathers is far poorer than many other countries.  Shared Parenting Scotland considers that improved paternal leave would lead to increased involvement in childcare by fathers.  Consequently this should make shared parenting more likely.  The Fatherhood Institute’s research study on paternity leave reports on research evidence supporting this view.

Category: Other

When a contact or maintenance request is made, the response is sometimes to deny paternity. DNA testing (https://www.gov.uk/get-dna-test) now provides a quick and reliable way of establishing who is the father of a child, but it can only be carried out if the parent with responsibility for a child agrees for samples to be taken. If testing is refused, a court can make a presumption of paternity in certain circumstances.

Category: Other

Family Mediation is a service that helps parents and other family members to resolve differences and reach agreement after separation. You can arrange an intake interview with your local family mediation service by contacting them – use this link to find your local service.  Following your intake interview the service can invite your ex-partner to attend an intake meeting but cannot insist on attendance.  After intake interviews have been completed the mediation can take place if both parents agree.  When you contact the service in your area you will be advised whether they ask for a suggested donation or if they have a set charge. See this note about choosing a mediator.   Lawyer mediation is also available, ask your lawyer or see the CALM Scotland site.

Category: Other

Look on your local council web site to see if they run any suitable classes, or try contacting organisations like Parent Network Scotland (https://www.parentnetworkscotland.org.uk/) or Mellow Parenting (https://www.mellowparenting.org/). A Google search should show up smaller local organisations in your area. You may find that some classes say that they are only for parents who have contact with their child – try politely and firmly to persuade them that you need the training to help resume contact.

Category: Other

First, be careful before attaching the label “Parental Alienation” (PA) to something which is worrying but not as extreme.  Children of separated parents can find it very hard to manage their divided loyalties, and may show signs that they are rejecting a parent, whether or not they have been influenced by the parent they live with most.

The signs of the far more worrying PA are more extreme, as listed here.  As noted by Dr William Bernet, these symptoms still need to be studied further but do give a strong indication of the disorder.  At the simplest level, building up contact with the child is the best way to prevent alienation.  And if the child is already so hostile that this is impossible, there are now family therapists and child psychologists who have experience of working with children to undo the alienation.  Amongst the mass of information on this topic, try Nick Child’s Alienation Experience, and Karen Woodall’s blog.

Category: Other

Before the mediation starts, each parent has their own intake interview with the mediation service to discuss what needs to be discussed and to explain how mediation works. After this mediation can start to involve both of you. Normally you then meet together with the mediator, although sometimes the parents sit in different rooms and the mediator goes between them (shuttle mediation). Either parent can refuse to take part in mediation, which may mean that you have to raise a court action to resolve the dispute.

Category: Other

It is estimated that at least one in ten women are affected by post-natal depression (PND) within a year of giving birth.  A smaller but not insignificant proportion of fathers are also affected.  Contact your GP or health visitor if you think that you or your partner are affected by PND.  Local support organisations such as those listed here can also help.  Fathers Network Scotland has been training perinatal health professionals to ask new dads as well as new mums how they’re feeling.

Category: Other

Grandparents can often find it difficult to have regular contact with their grandchildren when problems arise between parents. This becomes ever more difficult following upon a separation or divorce. Sometimes, grandparents’ contact can also suffer due to conflict or a breakdown in their own relationships with the children’s parents.  Although grandparents can also seek contact through a court order, this can be difficult and expensive. Contact Shared Parenting Scotland or Grandparents Apart for further information or see the Scottish Government Charter For Grandchildren

Categories: Court & Law, Other

Proof hearings, in which both sides present evidence in support of their case,  only happen in a small proportion of family court cases, when agreement cannot be reached.  Obtaining sworn affidavits from your witnesses and ensuring that all relevant information is lodged with the court are important parts of the preparation.  If you are representing yourself you need to prepare questions for witnesses.  Our guide to representing yourself in the family court covers this topic in more detail.

Category: Other

Start with the FAQs, which have been written to answer questions that are asked on our helpline, at group meetings or in WhatsApp groups.  When necessary we consult experienced family lawyers to help ensure the accuracy and we try to avoid using legal jargon.  Links to more detailed information are included where possible.  If you can’t find the answer to your question try searching the whole site using the magnifying glass at top right of the screen.  If nothing is found email or phone us with your question.

Category: Other

Someone with parental responsibility for the child must apply for the passport.   Both parents’ details need to be provided on the application but both signatures are not required.  If you cannot provide the other parent’s details, you need to say why (for example, you’re the only parent named on the birth certificate or you adopted the child on your own).  If a passport has been obtained for your child without your details included, try contacting the passport advice line.

Parenting Agreement

Categories: Other, Parenting Agreement

A parenting agreement sets out what has been decided between parents on the arrangements for the children, usually in connection with separation.  There is a model structure for such agreements published by the Scottish Government as a Parenting Plan.  Parents who find it difficult to reach agreement can try using Family Mediation as a way of putting an agreement together.  Lawyers can also assist in making an agreement, and then make it more official by registering it with the court.

School

Category: School

Yes. Schools get this wrong sometimes. Both parents retain full parental responsibilities and rights.  An order specifying residence and contact does not  eliminate either from carrying out responsibilities or exercising rights.  Detailed arrangements for residence and contact are just that and do not permit a residential parent to control how the other parent fulfils their responsibilities. Contact is not a privilege, it is a duty to be exercised in the interests of the child.nnIn terms of the Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Act both parents are entitled to their own relationship with the school. In the Guidance to the Act it is explicit that involvement by parents is encouraged. Both parents will have to have PVG clearance before accompanying children, for example, on a school trip. Ideally parents will cooperate on this. If they can’t, be sympathetic to the difficulty of the school in negotiating a solution when both parents want to volunteer. Perhaps propose that parents can alternate as helpers but excluding the non-resident parent without reason is not an option.

Category: School

Choosing which school to attend may involve factors other that the relative quality of different schools.  Sometimes the dispute relates to the distance from each parent’s home, or to the type of school (local authority, private, religious or with other special features).  These dispute occasionally end up in court either as requests for specific issue orders or as part of a wider residence dispute.  The decision should always be made on what is in the best interests of the child, but determining best interests can be tricky.  In one case the sheriff actually visited both schools in order to determine which was most suitable.  A recent case concerned the choice between a local authority school near to one parent’s house and a Gaelic medium school which would have required a longer journey to school but which would maintain the language of the other parent.  In that case it was decided that the nearby school would be best for the child.  Such cases are costly and only settle the immediate question – avoid them if at all possible.

Category: School

Home education is allowed in Scotland as an alternative to attending a school.  The local authority has a responsibility to ensure that this education meets certain standards, and the parent of every child of school age has the duty to provide efficient education for him suitable to his age, ability and aptitude either by causing him to attend a public school regularly or by other means.  In this connection, parents are the biological parents, not just those with parental responsibilities and rights.

We have recently launched the Shared Parenting Scotland website and are continuing to develop the content, please bear with us whilst this happens. In the meantime, if you have specific questions, please contact us

Category: School

When contact is restricted or completely stopped, a parent can still obtain information from their child’s school.  This applies to all biological parents, not just those who have parental rights and responsibilities. If you haven’t been in contact with that school, start by sending a letter to the head teacher to introduce yourself and show that you are entitled to receive the information.  See our guide for further information and letter templates.