Where children are involved, courts are absolutely the place of last resort. Indeed the courts won’t make orders in relation to children unless they are necessary. I offer Mediation and Collaborative services where you can discuss your children in a supported environment. There are also a number of other services that can offer help and support such as Parenting after Parting classes and family consultants who can help you draw up a parenting plan. What I have learned over the years is that parents should never put their children in the position of having to choose between them.
They should also present a united front to their children if at all possible and should never denigrate the other parent in front of them. This can be especially hurtful – after all the other parent is the other half of your child. Where possible tell your children together that you are separating. Make a plan and prepare a script that you will both stick to. Don’t blame the other parent and above all reassure your child that they have done nothing wrong and that you both love them very much.
If you are married or if unmarried (such as a civil partnership) and the father is on the birth certificate and the child was born after 2006 both parents will have parental responsibilities and rights.
Even if you have parental rights and responsibilities you may still need to apply to the court for an order. If you are unmarried and not on the child’s birth certificate you will need to apply for a declarator of paternity before going on to ask the court for an order. This can be done in the same court action.
In Scotland, the civil courts handle family matters. The family courts can make Child Arrangement Orders that will determine visiting rights and where the child will live.
If you have to go to court there are a number of different orders the courts can make: