child contact lawyer

When a relationship breaks down, and children are involved, inevitably there will be very difficult decisions to be made as to where the child should live and what role either partner should have in raising their child. Where former partners cannot move past their differences alone, the help of a family law solicitor may be necessary to assist in reaching a decision that recognises the concerns of everyone – most importantly, those of the child. If you need sensitive and professional advice on your child contact matter, please contact our expert family lawyers today.

Child contact law in Scotland

In Scotland, by law a child is a person under the age of 16. When a decision is made regarding which partner a child should live with, the other partner can continue their parental relationship though direct (in person) or indirect (phone, email, letter and other communication technologies) contact. Both forms are known legally as “child contact” or “access”. The frequency and scope of contact a person is to have with their child depends on what Parental Rights and Responsibilities (PRRs) that person has.

PRRs consist of a mirrored right and responsibility. There exists a responsibility, if a PRR holder is not living with a child, to continue a personal relationship with that child and maintain regular contact. On the other hand, there exists an enforceable right for a PRR holder, who is not living with a child, to continue their relationship with the child through regular contact.

Who is entitled to PRRs, including child contact?

Under Scots law, the natural mother of a child has automatic PRRs. The father of a child will be granted automatic PRRs if:

  1. he was married to the child’s mother at the time the child was conceived, or they married at any time after the child’s birth; or
  2. he has been registered as the father on the child’s birth certificate from 4 May 2006.

A father will obtain PRRs, including contact, through the registration route even if he was never married to the child’s mother. 

An individual, known as a guardian, can be legally appointed by a parent with PRRs to step into the parent’s shoes and take up the same rights and responsibilities if that parent were to die.

Beyond these three core categories, any individual that may “claim an interest” is permitted to apply to a court for PRRs. Typically, this is sought by grandparents, aunts and uncles, but they do not have to be a blood relative of the child. A court can vary the PRRs of any person, including a child’s natural mother.

How is child contact determined?

Where disagreement arises over child contact, the matter can be taken to court. Here, a judge will review the family’s circumstances and determine what level of contact should apply to each person. The court may issue a “contact order” which arranges when, where and in what form a parent, guardian or person claiming interest will have contact with a child.

In the determination of contact orders, the key issue is always whether it is in the best interest of the child.

Contact our Expert Child Contact Lawyers in Caithness and Sutherland

It is recommended that you try to negotiate an appropriate level of child contact before taking your case to court. With guidance offered by a specialist family law solicitor, this is the most cost effective and least disruptive way to resolve issues.

Where negotiations fails, and litigation ensues, BBM’s family law solicitors have broad experience in Sheriff Court and Court of Session appearances. We accept family cases where the jurisdiction is under Wick Sheriff Court.

If you would like to speak with a solicitor from BBM’s Caithness and Sutherland Family Law Team, please call our office on 01955 604188 or contact us online.

Enquire now

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