Who can make decisions about children?

Last updated: 30/01/2020

There are many decisions you make about your children on a day to day basis as a parent.

There are many decisions you make about your children on a day to day basis as a parent. You are expected to involve your child’s other parent when making very important decisions about your child.

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

What are Parental Responsibilities and Rights? (PRR)

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 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.

 

Who has Parental Responsibilities and Rights?

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 anytime 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

Grandparents and step-parents do not have any legal rights over their grandchildren, or step fathers over step children, but may be given them by a court.

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 the child doesn’t live with them.

Where more than one person has parental responsibilities and rights both must agree on decisions about the children.

 

Who is a child?

It is not easy to explain exactly who a child is as it depends on the situation.

Under the Children (Scotland) Act 1995, the act that covers Parental Responsibilities and Rights, a child is under 18 years. For child protection issues a child is under 16 but in some circumstances can be up to 18.

Children can become independent at 16 when they start full time work or claim certain welfare benefits but may also remain a dependent of their parents up to the age of 20 if in non-advanced education.

Under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child children of all ages have a right to be asked what they think, express an opinion and have that opinion listened to. Adults acting on behalf of children do not have to act on the wishes of children but could do so depending on the ability of the child to decide for themselves.