Children (Scotland) Act 1995

The Children (Scotland) Act 1995 sets out a statutory statement of parental responsibilities and rights and clarifies the law on guardianship. It requires parents and other persons who have parental responsibilities and rights to consider, as far as practical, their children’s views when making decisions which affect them. 

The Act defines who has parental responsibilities and rights and they retain parental responsibilities and rights unless they are removed by a court. These are: 

  • The child’s mother; 
  • The parents of a child who are married and are either living together or are separated; 
  • The parents of a child who were married but are now divorced; 
  • The father of a child who is not married to the child’s mother but who has reached an agreement under Section 4 of the Act with the child’s mother and registered that agreement in the Books of Council and Session in Edinburgh; 
  • The father of a child who is not married to the child’s mother but is registered as the child’s father in a birth register in the UK after 4 May 2006; and 
  • Any person, as directed by the court e.g. where the court has made a residence order in favour of an unmarried father or a grandparent.

Parents must comply with their responsibilities as far as it is practical to do so and in the interests of the child. Their responsibilities are to: 

  • Safeguard and promote the child’s health, development and welfare until the age of 16; 
  • Provide direction until the age of 16 and guidance until the age of 18; 
  • Maintain regular contact with the child until he or she is 16; and 
  • Act as legal representative until the child is 16. 

Parents have the right to: 

  • Have the child living with them or to decide where a child under 16 lives; 
  • Direct and guide the child’s upbringing; 
  • Maintain contact; and 
  • Act as legal representative. 

The Local Authority has made arrangements for both parents to give their consent when major decisions are being made about their child’s education e.g. admission to school, school excursions. However, it should be noted that under the Children (Scotland) Act 1995, each parent may exercise parental rights without the consent of the other. 

Therefore, the Authority will not delay implementing a decision if there is only one parent’s signature. The exception to this is excursions involving travel outside the UK. In this case, written consent from both parents exercising parental rights and responsibilities must be given if the child is to participate. 

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