Who can make decisions about children?

Last updated: 09/03/2022

The Children (Scotland) Act 1995 outlines who has the right to be included in making decisions about your child and what must be done for children. These are called Parental Responsibilities and Rights.

What are Parental Responsibilities and Rights?

A person who has parental responsibility and rights for a child has the right to make decisions about their care and upbringing.

These include the responsibility for and making decisions about:-

  • The safety, wellbeing and health of your child
  • Providing a home for your child
  • Your child’s education
  • Providing discipline
  • Your child’s belongings

These are a few of the main points but there are many others. Having this responsibility for your child gives you the right to name your child, see medical records and school reports, decide where and when they can go on holiday, what religion they can follow, what they should eat and when they can go to bed.

Related information

For more details and the cost to register a Parental Responsibilities and Rights Agreement, call the Registers of Scotland: 0800 169 9391

The people who have these are:

  • The woman who gave birth to the child
  • The father if:
    • he was married to the mother when the baby was conceived or married the mother any time after
    • he registered the birth of the baby with the mother (i.e. his name is on the birth certificate) after 04 May 2006
    • he signed and registered a Parental Responsibilities and Rights Agreement
    • he was given Parental Responsibilities and Rights by the court
  • A person in a same sex couple who: –
    • is/was married to or in a civil partnership with the mother or has signed the forms giving them parental responsibilities and rights, at the time she had egg donation, embryo transfer, or donor insemination treatment
  • A person named on the child’s Parental Order after surrogacy
  • The person named in an Adoption Order
  • An appointed guardian

Fathers who do not have parental responsibilities and rights can get them by signing a parental responsibilities and rights agreement. Both parents must sign this document and it must be sent to the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland.

If either parent refuses to agree to sign the document, fathers can go to court and ask for an order giving them parental responsibilities and rights. They can do this even if their child doesn’t live with them. The court will decide if this should be given based on what is best for the child.

When your baby’s other parent has parental responsibilities and rights they should be included in any decision made about your child.  You are also expected to plan for your baby to have contact time with them.

If your baby’s father does not have parental responsibilities and rights you do not legally have to consider them when making decisions although it may be advantageous for the father to be involved with your baby.