My parents are going to court about contact—who’s going to listen to me?


When parents don’t live together and can’t agree on:

  • where their children should stay, or
  • how much time they should spend with each parent,

they will go to the Family Court for a Child Welfare Hearing so someone can make a decision on what should happen. 

The person who makes this decision is known as a Sheriff. They will hear each parent’s view and ask questions if they need more information. But Sheriffs know that your views are equally important as the child or young person involved. Because of this, they may ask a Child Welfare Reporter to spend time with you to find out how they feel about what is happening.

Sometimes, the Sheriff will speak directly with you. This all helps Sheriffs take a child or young person’s views into account when they are making their decision.

Your rights

Article 9 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), the European Convention on Human Rights and laws in Scotland all make it clear that children and young people have the right to have contact with both parents, but only if it is safe and in their best interests for this to happen.

The UNCRC also says that children and young people have the right to have their views heard and taken into account when decisions are made about them. Article 12 specifically mentions the importance of this in decisions taken by courts.

There are ways you can help make sure the Sheriff hears your views. You can fill in an F9 form from the Court – your solicitor can give you a copy – or get a ‘Helping Hands’ form from the Scottish Child Law Centre—these are especially good for younger children. You can also write directly to the Sheriff. Even young children and those who have different ways of communicating can and should be helped by adults to do this.

What you can do

There are ways you can help make sure the Sheriff hears your views. You can fill in an F9 form from the Court – your solicitor can give you a copy – or get a ‘Helping Hands’ form from the Scottish Child Law Centre—these are especially good for younger children. You can also write directly to the Sheriff. Even young children and those who have different ways of communicating can and should be helped by adults to do this.

Children and young people can also have their own lawyers. Normally lawyers will act for children if they are 12 or older, but they will also represent younger children as long as they are able to understand what is happening.

If you would like more information you can contact either the Scottish Child Law Centre or ClanChildlaw who can give you advice and information.

A:

If you are a child or a young person and would like advice and information from the Commissioner’s office – or to tell us something you’re worried about – you can contact Linda, Nick or Maria by:

  • using the form at the bottom of our website
  • emailing us at inbox@cypcs.org.uk
  • texting 0770 233 5720 (Texts will be charged at your standard network rate)
  • calling our children and young people’s freephone on 0800 019 1179.

We can also give advice and information about children’s rights issues to adults—please contact us on inbox@cypcs.org.uk or through using our contact form.

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