Family and Divorce Solicitors serving Inverness and the Highlands, Scotland
Safeguard your closest relationships through the expert legal advice of Innes & Mackay family solicitors
We give guidance on some of the common legal issues relating to fathers in Scotland.
Please contact our family and divorce solicitors at Innes & Mackay to discuss your situation.
Parental Responsibilities and Rights
All mothers automatically obtain parental responsibilities and rights (PRRs) upon the birth of their child.
Married fathers also obtain them upon registration of the child’s birth.
Unmarried fathers only obtain PRRs if they register the child’s birth together with the mother.
If the unmarried father’s name doesn’t appear on the child’s birth certificate, they have no parental responsibilities or rights.
Unmarried fathers can later obtain PRRs by either:
- marrying the child’s mother and completing and signing a Parental Responsibilities and Rights Agreement in conjunction with the child’s mother, or
- asking the Court to grant PRRs to him.
The two sets of legal rules within Parental Responsibilities and Rights work together.
Parents are given parental rights to allow them to carry out their parental responsibilities in relation to their children.
Parents are expected to use these rights to make decisions that are in the best interests of their children.
The full list of rights and responsibilities can be viewed on our Parental Rights and Responsibilities page.
All fathers are financially responsible for their children even if they:
- don’t live with the child
- aren’t named on the child’s birth certificate
- don’t have formal parental responsibility.
The Child Maintenance Service (no longer the Child Support Agency) now deals with situations where parents are unable to agree between themselves arrangements for financially supporting their children.
Detailed information regarding child maintenance can be found online at www.cmoptions.org.
The site also includes a calculator to assist fathers in working out how much child maintenance they should be paying.
Notify the Child Maintenance Service immediately if you’re notified of an application for maintenance for a child where:
- you’re not named on the child’s birth certificate
- you’re uncertain whether you’re the father.
You should have a DNA test carried out in order to establish whether or not you’re the child’s father.
It is up to you to prove you’re not the child’s father otherwise maintenance will be due.
If it’s proven that you’re not the child’s father, you’ll be refunded for any payments you’ve made.
This will be for the period from the date you’ve notified the Service you dispute paternity to the date you notify them of the DNA results.
DNA Testing and Birth Certificate
If there’s any doubt as to whether a particular man is the father of a child, a DNA paternity test can be carried out. This will prove the position one way or the other.
A regulated testing service should always be used. It’s carried out at a GP’s surgery and involves a simple mouth swab.
Testing is needed of the:
- assumed father
- mother (if possible).
The swabs are then sent to the testing service and results are returned within a few days.
Once paternity is established, the mother may agree to having the father’s name placed on the birth certificate. This is done via a re-registration process.
If the mother doesn’t agree to this, the Court can grant a declarator of paternity. This is an order that enables the Registrar to make an entry in the Register of Corrections.
The declarator of paternity is available alongside the birth certificate and will be seen by anyone viewing the birth entry of the child.
Contact and Residence
When a child’s parents aren’t able to agree arrangements to care for the children between themselves, it’s possible for the Court to intervene.
The court has the ability to grant a ‘contact order’ which regulates how much contact the child should have with the parent with whom the child doesn’t normally reside.
Similarly, if the parents are in dispute as to who should be the child’s primary carer, the court can grant a ‘residence order’ to regulate this.
It’s usually always better if parents can agree these matters themselves but sometimes this isn’t possible.
In such situations, the Court will always consider the best interests of the child as the paramount consideration.
Specialist Divorce & Family Law Solicitors Inverness, Highlands, Scotland
Innes & Mackay have been providing expert legal advice for many years on all aspects of family law. We’re experienced in litigation and all methods of alternative dispute resolution.
All of our expert family law solicitors are trained in Collaborative Family Law. Two of the team are mediators and one is an arbitrator.
We pride ourselves on offering legal advice that reflects our client’s needs and take an objective approach to delivering a professional and friendly service.