Making plans for your children

Last updated: 25/01/2023

When you separate from your partner you both need to agree on how you continue to care for your children.

Related information

You can get a copy of the Parenting Plan from the Scottish Government.

Scottish Government website:

Request a copy by email from:


Contact Relationships Scotland for information on mediation services.

0345 119 2020 Mon – Fri, 9.30am – 4pm

New from Relationships Scotland

Relationships Scotland have a new resource that we have produced recently for children and young people – ‘Have Your Say’ – that explains how children can have their views heard in family mediation.

Take a look at Have Your Say

Agreeing on contact with children

Who has rights and responsibilities for your children?

Generally parents who were married or in a civil partnership both have the same legal right to make decisions on behalf of their children, and the responsibility to care for them.

Where the parents were not married or in a civil partnership, only the mother will have rights and responsibilities unless the other parent:-

  • has their name on the birth certificate,
  • has signed a Parental Responsibility and Rights agreement which has been registered with the court,
  • has been given Parental Responsibilities and Rights by the court.

Whatever the legal situation it is considered best for the children to have contact with both parents unless there is a good reason why they shouldn’t.

Making arrangements to see your children

There are no right or wrong contact arrangement. The best plan is the one that works. The Scottish Government’s Parenting Plan pack is a useful tool for making arrangements for your children. This pack contains information, advice, and a booklet you can fill in to help you arrive at an agreement.

If it is difficult for you both to agree on when you see, and how you care for, your children you could consider using a family mediation service. A qualified mediator will try to help you find a suitable arrangement. Your children may be able to take part too depending on their age.

For more information see: Child contact arrangements

Related information

Find counselling services on the COSCA Register of Counsellors and Psychotherapists:


Help for your children

This is likely to be a difficult time for your children. It may be hard for them to understand what is happening and why their parents don’t live together anymore. ParentLine may be able to offer advice on how to explain the separation to your children. The Gingerbread website also gives information on this. You may be able to find suitable books from the library or on the One Parent Families Scotland website for both you and your children.

It may be worthwhile letting childminders or teachers know that your children may be upset. This will allow them to be prepared and also to look out for any behaviour that may be a cause for concern.

Your children’s school may be able to refer your children to support services if needed. You could find a private counselling service or your GP can refer you and your child to family counselling services although there could be a waiting list.

Relationships Scotland:

0345 119 2020 Mon - Fri, 9.30am - 4pm

ParentLine Scotland lines are open seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Phone: 08000 28 22 33 Mon - Fri, 9am - 9pm, Sat - Sun, 9am - noon

Children First:

Gingerbread for information on how to talk to children about separation:

One Parent Families Scotland book list:

See our book list