Contact & Residence Agreements
In many cases, parents are able to agree on child residence and contact arrangements amicably. Where you are largely in agreement, it can be helpful to engage a solicitor to ensure that your agreement covers common sticking points, including arrangements for holidays and family celebrations. We can assist by ensuring that your agreement is sufficiently detailed to avoid the need for constant renegotiation. We can then draft a Minute of Agreement for you both to sign, confirming the arrangements and recording that you both consider these to meet your child or children's best interests. This ensures clarity and helps to preserve goodwill over the longer term. Having a Minute of Agreement in place offers the security of a legally binding agreement should there be any dispute in the future.
Minutes of Agreement can be drafted to suit your family’s needs even if a degree of flexibility is required. Get in touch with us and we’ll be able to provide you specific advice about your options.
Going to Court - Contact & Residence Orders
If it is not possible to agree to child residence and contact arrangements outside of court, any individual holding Parental Rights & Responsibilities (PR&Rs), i.e. a mother or a father, or another individual who can 'claim an interest' in a child (such as a grandparent) can apply to the court for a child arrangement order. If you do not have PR&R there are various ways to obtain them. You can either enter an Agreement with the parent who already has them or apply to the Court.
A Court will take into account the child’s welfare before granting a Residence Order and/or Contact Order. A Residence Order will set out with whom the child should live (which may include splitting residency, known as a Joint Residence Order), whilst a Contact Order may order direct contact, allowing visits, or allow the child to stay with the non-residing parent or other interested party.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I have Parental Rights & Responsibilities?
Parental Rights and Responsibilities (PR&Rs) are the rights and responsibilities associated with a parent who is legally responsible for the safeguarding and promotion of their child’s development and welfare. Other legal responsibilities include, guidance, and maintaining and promoting contact as well as the responsibility to act as the child’s legal representative.
It is not always the case that parents will both automatically have PR&Rs. A child’s biological mother automatically acquires PR&Rs at birth, whereas the father will obtain them if:
- the child’s father is married to the child’s mother at the time of conception or any time after; or
- he is not married to the child’s mother but is named as the father on the child’s birth certificate. (This applies for children born after 4 May 2006, but if the mother does not consent to this taking place, the father will be required to obtain an Order from the Court conferring PR&Rs.)
It is also possible for more than two individuals to hold PR&Rs at one time. Quite often step-parents, grandparents or other third parties who “claim an interest” in the child can apply for PR&Rs by way of a Parental Rights and Responsibilities Agreement or by Court Order. At Kee Solicitors, we will happily assist in resolving any of these issues. Please contact us today.
Do Grandparents have rights?
In Scots Law, grandparents do not have any immediate rights regarding contact with their grandchildren, but may, in certain circumstances make an application for a residence or contact order. A Court will consider the child’s welfare to a large degree when assessing the appropriateness of any Court orders. If you are a grandparent seeking to establish contact with your grandchildren, we can advise on your options.
What is a Residence Order?
A “residence order” is a court order that states with whom a child should live. It is possible for parents to have a Joint Residence order sharing the child’s main home, however it is more common for one parent to have a “residence order” and the other to have a “contact order”.
What is a Contact Order?
A “contact order” is an order of the court entitling a person to have contact with a child. Contact can take place in a variety of ways with or without conditions attached. Contact orders range from overnight contact to indirect letterbox contact.
Who can apply for a Residence Order?
Any individual who can 'claim and interest' in the welfare of the child may apply to court for a residence order in their favour. This may include parents, but also grandparents, siblings, or even unrelated individuals.
Does a child have a say in who they live with?
The child’s age and maturity will be taken into consideration when assessing the weight to be given to their views. It should also be noted that this area of law is currently under development and may shift toward younger children given their views through various methods.
How do I change existing child residence or contact arrangements?
If you feel existing arrangements are no longer in your child's best interests, you can seek to have the arrangements varied. However, it is essential that you continue to comply with any existing court order that is in place until a variation has been formally agreed. If you do not comply with an existing court order you may be found to be in Contempt of Court, which could have serious implications.
A child contact or residence order may be varied if the court agrees that there has been a material change in circumstances and it is in the child's best interests to amend the order.
Make a Free Enquiry today with our Child Law Specialists Glasgow, Aberdeen, Scotland
Kee Solicitors are a specialist family law firm and are here to help you with any questions.