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If a child's birth parents both have parental responsibilities and rights, it is up to both of them to decide what's best for their child.

Working out if a father has parental responsibilities and rights

You have parental responsibilities and rights if you're the child's biological father and you either:

  • were married to or in a civil partnership with the child's birth mother when your child was conceived
  • married or entered into a civil partnership with the child's birth mother after your child was conceived (even if you end your relationship later)
  • jointly registered your child's birth with your child's birth mother (after 4th May 2006)
  • have signed and registered an agreement with the child's birth mother, unless a court has taken away her parental responsibilities and rights
  • are given them by a court

If you don't have parental responsibilities and rights, it's up to the child's mother to decide what's best. You have no legal right to make these choices.

If you can't agree with the child's mother, you can get family mediation to help find a way.

If you're breaking up

The law doesn't give any guidelines if you're breaking up with your partner, such as:

  • whether children should live with a mother or father
  • how often either of you should see your child

The law only says that parents with parental responsibilities and rights have a duty to agree on the best way to look after their child.

You could make a Parenting Plan with the other parent – a voluntary agreement about arrangements for your children.

If you can't agree with your ex-partner, you can get help from a family mediator. This is when a person trained in working through problems will try to help you and your ex-partner to agree what's best.

You can also free advice about your responsibilities and rights from Citizen's Advice Scotland.

Getting parental responsibilities and rights

The mother and father of a child can agree that the father should have parental responsibilities and rights if they both sign and register an agreement.

A parental rights and responsibilities agreement between a mother and a father is only valid if the mother has parental responsibilities and rights. If she doesn't, such as if a child has been adopted, the agreement will not be valid.

You can also apply to a court for an order granting parental responsibilities and rights if you're a father. If a court grants this order, you'll have parental responsibilities and rights. The mother doesn't need to give her consent for this. You should talk to a solicitor if you want to do this.

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