Drummond Miller understand how difficult disputes about children can be

We are extremely experienced in advising clients regarding issues and disputes around residence, contact and the operation of Parental Rights and Responsibilities (PRRs).

What are PRRS?

PRRS refer to the rights and responsibilities you, as a parent, have with regard to your child. Your rights include being involved in how your child is brought up and where your child should live. You have a legal entitlement to a say in all the important decisions that affect your child's upbringing.

Your responsibilities involve all the things you are required to do to look after your child. This involves the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority involved in your legal role as a parent to your child. If you have parental responsibilities, you are obliged to exercise the associated rights in the best interests of your child or children.

Any disputes between parents regarding the operation of PRRs will be determined by a Court if need be, who will apply the test of what is in the best interests of the child.

Who has PRRS in respect of a child?

A mother automatically gains PRRs for her child as soon as it is born. A father will gain parental responsibility and rights if he was married to the mother when the child was born, if he marries her subsequently or if he is on the child’s birth certificate (provided the child was born after 4th May 2006).

How can you obtain PRRS?

If a father doesn't automatically have PRRs there are two ways he may obtain these. A father can register a parental responsibility agreement with the child's mother. Alternatively, an order can be sought from the court.

There are scenarios where people other than a child's parents may obtain parental responsibility, such as kinship care whereby a step-parent, grandparent or other family member provides day-to-day care. These people can gain parental responsibility by applying for it from the Court.

How does the Court approach disputes regarding PRRS?

The court’s primary concern is the welfare of the child, and whether it is in the child’s best interests for PRRs to be granted. If the other parent objects to this, then they will have an opportunity to explain their reasoning to the court.

How can I seek to obtain contact with my child?

If a parent wishes to obtain contact with their child, they should in the first instance try to reach agreement with the other parent, either directly or with the assistance of a solicitor. Mediation can be very helpful as a tool to try and reach agreement.

If agreement cannot be reached, then the parent can approach the court to seek a contact order. Once again, the court’s primary consideration will be what arrangements are in the best interest of the child.

Contact doesn't always involve visits in person. It can also include a phone calls and communication through video chats like Skype or Facetime. These types of contact orders are particularly useful when location restricts face to face contact.

A contact order will define how contact between a child and the parent they don't usually live with takes place. It can even dictate the conditions of the handover of a child, and who must do what during contact. It can also outline how the parents are to communicate about scheduling and any issues that may arise.

Our Family Law Team are based out of our offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Bathgate, Dalkeith and Musselburgh and are extremely experienced at advising clients regarding disputes surrounding contact, residence and Parental Rights and Responsibilities. Please contact us today for further advice.

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