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Child Custody Lawyers in Dundee

child lawyer dundeeWith the passage of time, it is not uncommon for couples to experience difficulties, and some may decide to bring their relationship to an end. While it is undeniable that both parties will normally have arrived at such a decision after a great deal of consideration and anxiety, the breakdown of a realtionship can have a huge impact upon children.

The position of children in a relationship is very important, and one that the law has accorded significant protection. Unfortunately, the interests of children in respect of their parent’s decision to divorce are often overlooked. It is important to note that the law will not permit a couple to divorce if arrangements have not been made to ensure a child's welfare.

What is the law?

In Scotland a child is a person under the age of 16. If a couple decide to divorce, a court will be anxious to know, before it grants the divorce, that there is someone equipped with the requisite powers to care and maintain a stable environment for any children to the relationship. This involves the court being satisfied that there is someone with ‘Parental Rights and Responsibilities’ (known as PRR's) for the child. These are defined in legal statute the Children (Scotland) Act 1995, and aim to provide parents with certain rights which will enable them to carry out their responsibilities.

Who has Parental Rights and Responsibilities?

Provided they register the child's birth together, both mother and father are given PRR's automatically. This is a result of relatively recent changes to the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006. For children born before the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006 came into force and if the child's mum and dad were married to one another (or got married later) then both parents were given PRR's. If a child's mum and dad were not married, then only the mum was given PRR's, but as a result of the new act a dad can apply for PRR's. Other people not covered by the above may apply to the courts for PPR's, which will determine their eligibility based on family law.

The law has been designed to reflect the fact that circumstances may be such that the natural parents of a child may not be best placed, for any number of reasons, to have Parental Rights and Responsibilities for a child. The law allows for anyone who has an interest in the child's welfare to apply to the courts for Parental Rights and Responsibilities. This includes grandparents, and more distant family members, who may ask the court to grant them responsibility for a child's welfare.

How can family relationships be maintained?

Divorce causes anxiety for many people. One major concern among extended family members is that they may lose contact with children after their parents divorce. As mentioned above, the law attaches a great deal of importance to the relationships that children have, not only their parents but also with their family at large. It is in this context that a court can make certain orders that will require for familial relationships to be maintained after a couple have divorced. These ‘residence’ and ‘contact’ orders provide for where a child should live and how they should be allowed to keep in contact with their family members, e.g. a non-resident parent or more distant family members with whom a child has a relationship that needs to be preserved.

In a divorce, parents will understandably be of the view that the decisions they make in terms of their children will be with a view to protect their welfare. However, it may be that their objectivity is clouded by the emotional turmoil that often accompanies a divorce. If a decision cannot be reached between the parents and the court deems it appropriate, it will invite the child in question to give their views on where they would like to live and how they would like to maintain contact with their family once their parents’ divorce is granted. It should be pointed out that the courts are wary of taking such direct action in respect of children’s interest, and encourage parents, where possible, to work together to safeguard their child's welfare.

Child Custody Lawyer Dundee

If this is an issue affecting you and you would potentially like legal advice, please contact us today for expert family law advice.

Call us on 01382 250 361 or contact us online.

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