Great Expectations? (What the Family Court Expects from Parents

Great Expectations? (What the Family Court Expects from Parents)

Glasgow Sheriff Court previously issued guidelines for parents who are involved in Court proceedings in relation to their child or children.  The guidelines apply to all the children and all parents and carers, without exception.  We discuss the content of the guidelines with clients and we forward this information to parents and carers whose children are the subject of Court proceedings. The guidelines serve as a useful reminder to clients to try and encourage resolution of child related matters with the other parent, rather than asking the Court to regulate things.  Obviously, this is not possible in all cases but these guidelines are a reminder of how, where possible, parents should co-operate in relation to arrangements for their children. Please feel free to print and share.

These guidelines apply to all children and all parents & carers. Please do not think that your case is an exception

.

The Court wants you to think about these things:

● As parents, you share responsibility for your child.  You have a duty to talk to each other and make very effort to agree about how you will bring your child up.

● Even when you separate, this duty continues.

● Try to agree the arrangements for your child.  If talking to each other is difficult, ask for help. Trained mediators can help you to talk to each other and find solutions even when things are hard. Local services include: Relationship Scotland – Family Mediation West (

www.fmwest.org.uk) and CALM Scotland (www.calmscotland.co.uk)  (You can also get assistance from The Spark (http://www.thespark.org.uk)

  • If you cannot agree, you can ask the Court to decide for you. The law says that the Court must always put the welfare of the child first. What you want may not be the best thing for the child. The Court has to put the child first however hard this is for the adults.

 

● Experience suggests that agreements between you as parents work better than Court imposed orders.

The Court therefore expects you to do what is best for your child:

● Encourage your child to have a good relationship with both of you.

● Try to have a good enough relationship with each other as parents even though you are no longer together as a couple.

● Arrange for your child to spend time with each of you.

Remember that the Court expects you to do what is best for your child even when you find that difficult:

● It is the law that a child has a right to regular personal contact with parents unless there is a very good reason to the contrary. Denial of contact is very unusual and in most cases contact will be frequent and substantial.

  • A Court may deny contact if it is satisfied that your or your child’s safety is at risk.

 

  • Sometimes a parent stops contact because he or she feels that he or she is not getting enough money from the other parent to look after the child.  This is not a reason to stop contact.

 

Your Child needs to:

  • Understand what is happening to their family. It is your job to explain.

 

  • Have a loving open relationship with both parents. It is your job to encourage this. You may be separated from each other but your child needs to know that he or she is not being separated from either of you.

 

  • Show love, affection and respect for both parents.

 

Your child should not be made to:

● Blame himself or herself for the breakup.

● Hear you criticize the other parent or anyone else involved.

● Turn against the other parent because they think that is what you want.

You can help your child:

● Think about how he or she feels about the breakup.

● Listen to what your child has to say about how he or she is feeling, and about what he or she thinks of any arrangements that have to be made.

● Try to agree arrangements for your child with other people.

● Talk to the other parent openly, honestly and respectfully

  • Explain your point of view to the other parent so that you do not misunderstand one another.

 

● Draw up a plan as to how you will share responsibility for your child.

● When you have different ideas from other parent, do not talk about it when your child is with you. Do not publicise your disagreement or make derogatory comments on any social media sites where the child might access them or hear about them from others

If you want to change agreed arrangements such as where the child lives or goes to school:

● Make sure the other parent agrees. If you cannot agree, go to mediation; if you still cannot agree, apply to the Court

If  there is a Court Order in place, you must do what the Court Order says even if you

don’t agree with that. If you want to do something different, you have to apply to the

Court to have the Court Order varied.

So, some helpful home truths from Glasgow Sheriff Court. If you need any help or guidance, or further explanation as to the effect these guidelines may have on you then please do not hesitate to contact Caroline Henderson on 0141 611 7535 or visit us at www.mtmfamilylaw.co.uk.  Please feel free to share this information.

Holidays are Coming!

Holidays are Coming!

With summer rapidly approaching and holidays on the horizon, if you haven’t yet got a passport for your child, then get your skates on! I have just received a renewal passport for my daughter, and head off to sunnier climes in 38 days time (not that I’m counting!). I actually used the Government’s online passport service, completed the information and paid the fee, then printed off the form and sent it with a counter signed photograph to the Passport Office. Eight days later the new passport arrived! However, please allow as much time as possible as it is likely the Passport Office will get busier, the closer we get to the school summer holidays!

So, who is able to sign the child’s first passport or renewal passport application? Such applications require to be completed by a person with parental responsibility in relation to the child. The law in Scotland (which differs from the law in England and Wales) provides that the mother of a child can sign the passport application. Who the “mother” is may seem obvious, but it is the woman who gave birth to the child. This can cause a few difficulties in surrogacy situations, but the woman who gives birth to the child is the mother of the child for all legal purposes (until such time as that is changed, either by a parental order or by adoption).

The rules regarding fathers are slightly different, and the rules also depend on when the child was born and his or her birth registration. The important date is 4th May 2006, as this is the date that the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006 provisions came into force.

For children born in Scotland, whose births were registered before 4th May 2006, if the child’s parents were married to each other then both parents have equal parental rights and responsibilities and either can sign. If the child’s parents were not married at the time the birth was registered, but have subsequently married, then both mother and father can sign the passport application. Even if the father’s name is on the birth certificate, but the child’s parents were not and have never been married to each other, the father in these circumstances is generally unable to sign.

For children born and whose births are registered after 4th May 2006, an unmarried dad can acquire parental rights and responsibilities if he is named on the birth certificate and both parents jointly register the birth, meaning either can apply for a passport. If the child’s parents are married to each other, then both parents have equal rights and responsibilities at the time of birth and subsequently (unless removed by order of the court), therefore either parent can complete the passport application.

Parental rights and responsibilities can also be acquired by the mother completing a Parental Responsibilities and Parental Rights Agreement in terms of section 4 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 (or in some same sex situations a section 4A Agreement can be completed), or if the court has made an order granting the other party parental rights and responsibilities.

In some situations the court may also grant orders for parental rights and responsibilities to persons other than parents for example grandparents, step- parents, aunts and uncles. Even though a court may make an order of contact between a child and a parent, if that is the only order made, this does not entitle the parent exercising contact to complete a passport application. If the unmarried father is not named on the birth certificate and doesn’t fall into a category detailed above he cannot apply for a passport.

If there is any doubt as to who can complete the application or who has parental rights and responsibilities entitling them to complete the application then full advice can be found on the Government website www.gov.scot . Alternatively, give us a call and we would be happy to help!