When relationships break down a potential source of conflict and worry are the arrangements surrounding contact & residence of your children. Where should the children live and with whom ? What about contact with the children & non resident parent ? What happens if you cannot see eye to eye with your partner on a suitable arrangement ? Orders may need to be obtained at Court. All are common problems that I have successfully addressed over my career as a family law solicitor in Perth. Need help with a contact or residence issue ? Call me on 07310 164 305 or use the contact form.

I often hear the terms ‘access ’ and ‘custody ’ used when referring to children. What do these terms mean ?

‘Access’ & ‘custody’ are outdated terms no longer used in Scots Law, albeit the terms still tend to used a lot by parents & the public. The correct terms are ‘contact’ and ‘residence’. If a child is not resident with you then you would seek contact with that child. Residence refers to which parent ( or a grandparent/aunt ) a child resides. Post separation, after consideration of the suitability of prospective arrangements, parents often decide themselves where and with whom a child will reside. However, where there is conflict, the Court may be called upon to decide. Guided by common law & The Children (Scotland) Act 1995  the Court will consider the welfare of the child, the views of that child and what is in the best interests of the child before issuing any orders.

The court, in consideration of issuing orders concerning children, will not exclusively focus on the merits of the claims of parents, with no parent seen as ‘ better ‘ than the other. The court will take a multidisciplinary approach by obtaining the views of the children, testimony from teachers, social workers, child psychologists and other expert opinion as the court may see fit. The court will always make a decision based on what is in the ‘ best interests ‘ of the child.

My partner and I are separated. Relations between us are strained. She is stopping me seeing our children. What can I do about this ?

As a family law solicitor I have a great deal of experience in dealing with issues of this nature. Ideally, after separating parties should  come to an arrangement for children to see parents & grandparents. If your wife, or an ex partner, is preventing you from seeing your children, then an action for contact would be an option. The court would hear the parties pleas and the court would decide on contact times. The court must be satisfied when making any order that the proposed order is in the best interests of the child & that it would be better for this order to be made than no order at all. The welfare best interests of the child is the court’s primary concern; not that of parents. Often the court will decide on interim contact arrangements with a view to assessing how contact progresses between children & parent.

We had a contact agreement but it is not working. What can I do ?

You may already have an agreement drafted by your solicitor which incorporates arrangements for child contact & residence, and this agreement did provide continuity & stability for the children. However, for parties where agreements are being flouted or ignored or where the agreement is clearly failing then one can ask the court to enforce the order or the court may take a view on the current fitness of the order regulating contact and residence. I would always hope to resolve an issue like this through negotiation and agreement with another skilled family lawyer thus avoiding court action, however should an impasse be met and court action required, I have a great deal of experience in this area of family law.

We don’t get on with our son’s ex wife and we never see our grandchildren. Can we as grandparents obtain a contact order ?

The situation above is one of the unfortunate side effects of the breakdown of a marriage or cohabitation. Relations between children and their extended family may wither away or stop entirely. The Children’s (Scotland ) Act 1995 allows for an interested party to apply to the court seeking an order; namely contact, residence or parental rights & responsibilities. The court does not look at the application from the perspective of how grandparents may benefit from the order; the court will always look at the application from the perspective of the child – is the proposed order sought in the best interests of the child & that it would be better for this order to be made than no order at all ? And if the child is able and wishes to express a view, that child should be given an opportunity to express that view and the view taken into account.

With 20 years experience of resolving children's contact & residence disputes in Perth help is at hand

Do you need my help with a contact or residence dispute ?

Call me on 07310 164 305 or use the contact form.

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Louisa J Wade

Family Law Solicitor

2 Ardchoille Park



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