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Child Custody Scotland - Listen to the Children

Child Custody Scotland - Listen to the Children

Child Custody Scotland - I am often asked by parents what age their child has to be to express a view in a child custody dispute between parents. Although many people still talk of custody and access, these terms are no longer legally correct and are now called residence and contact. In terms of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 there is an assumption that a child aged 12 or over is able to give an opinion, and to instruct their own solicitor. That is only a general starting point, as many children under 12 are sufficiently mature to be able to state their thoughts and feelings clearly.

Scottish Family law states that where a child wishes to express a view they must be allowed to do so. Thought must be given to the best way to obtain that view. It will not be the only factor taken into account in a case, and ultimately the court will decide what weight should be placed on the child's opinion.

Most people in a stressful dispute about childcare arrangements expect their son or daughter to be asked "where they want to live" or "if they want to see the parent they are not living with". Is that really what children want?

When we speak to children they do want to be heard, but they want to say things to their parents like:

  • "stop fighting"
  • "don't argue in front of us"
  • "talk to one another about things that affect us"
  • "we don't like it when you say bad things about each other" and
  • "we don't want to take sides or choose".

When their parents separate, children want to stay close to both parents. They don't need the burden of decision making. In difficult separations lawyers must help their clients remember that it is the things they find hard, like talking to one another, that matter most to their children.

If your child is caught in the middle and needs advice from an experienced family lawyer he/she can speak to us in confidence.

If you are worried about how your circumstances are affecting your children, contact our family law team.

CTA How to get a Divorce in Scotland large 2020

Written by : Lynne Collingham