10th February 2014

Obtaining Parental Rights in Scotland

Parental Rights and Responsibilities (PRRs) can be defined as 'all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which a parent of a child has by law'. In simple terms, this means that anyone with PRRs has:-

1.      A duty to look after the child and his or her well-being. This can entail providing a home, ensuring a proper education and protecting the child from harm;

2.      The legal authority to carry out these parental responsibilities. This means someone with PRRs can make decisions on the child's behalf without having to seek permission. This can entail consenting to medical treatment, naming the child and agreeing to emigration.

Who has parental rights and responsibilities?

But who, exactly, has Parental Rights and Responsibilities? Indeed, it is a complicated area of the law, and we are often asked by fathers, grandparents, step-parents and guardians as to whether or not they too enjoy these rights and responsibilities.

The first point to clarify is that all mothers are automatically bestowed wit PRRs, although this is not to say that they necessarily have the right to contact and residence. They are different issues entirely and can be rescinded if the court believes this to be in the child's interest.

The second issue is that of fathers; this is where it becomes a little more complex. If a father is married to the mother at the time of conception or anytime thereafter, he will automatically enjoy PRRs. The same is true if a child was born after May 2006 and the father is named on the birth certificate. Otherwise, a father must take it upon himself to obtain PRRs, should he so wish. This can be achieved by filling in a form called the Parental Responsibilities and Parental Rights Agreement, although this can only be done if the mother agrees. Alternatively he can apply to the court for Parental Responsibilities Order.

The third and final factor to highlight is that people other than a child's father can obtain PRRs. This can include anyone who has an interest in the child, such as grandparent's, step-parents or guardians. This must also be done through the courts.

How can you get Parental Rights and Responsibilities?

If you wish to get Parental Rights and Responsibilities over a child, you must consider what options are available. If you are the father, it may be possible to reach an agreement with the mother. If not, or if you are another party such as a grandparent, you will need to apply for a Parental Responsibility Order. This can take some time, as the court must look at all the information and evidence that is available, often commissioning special reports and calling a number of hearings to establish what impact such an order might have. The court will then either grant or deny your application, depending upon what is best for the child.

Where can I find legal advice in Dundee and Edinburgh?

If you would like more advice on obtaining PRRs in Scotland, contact us today on 01382 229 222 (Dundee) or 0131 222 8000 (Edinburgh) and speak to one of our family solicitors. Alternatively complete the online enquiry on the right.

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