Making plans for the children

Last updated: 16/04/2021

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

Agreeing on contact with children

Generally, parents who are/were married, or in a civil partnership, both have the same legal right to make decisions on behalf of their children and responsibility to care for them. Where the parents are not married, and not in a civil partnership, only the mother will have rights and responsibilities unless both parents’ names are on the birth certificate, they have signed a Parental Responsibility and Rights agreement (which has been registered with the court) or the parents have been given them in 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.

There are no right or wrong arrangements. 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.

Where your ex-partner is denying you contact with your children or asking for an unreasonable amount of contact you may need to seek legal advice.

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 support to you 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 them.

It may be worthwhile letting the other people your children have contact with, such as child minders or teachers, know that your children may be upset. This will allow them to be prepared and also to look out for, and let you know of, any behaviour that may be a cause for concern.

Your children’s school may be able to refer your children to support services if need be or your GP can refer to family counselling services although there could be a waiting list.

Relationships Scotland:

0345 119 2020

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

Phone: 08000 28 22 33

Children First:

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

One Parent Families Scotland book list:

See our book list