Award of Parental Responsibilities and Parental Rights to Father

Part of Orders of the Day — Children (Scotland) Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:45 pm on 1st May 1995.

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Photo of Jim Wallace Jim Wallace , Orkney and Shetland 5:45 pm, 1st May 1995

Although the clause does not refer to that, I automatically assumed that the mother would have a right of challenge and would be entitled to apply for legal aid.

Provision is made for the address of the mother to be kept from the father when serving the action. I am not sure how that would work in practice because the father would take the initiative, and it is difficult to know how he could serve the action if he did not have knowledge of the mother's address. However, I am sure that court rules could get round that. The intention is proper, and there should be the will to try to find the legal and procedural means to put the intention into practice.

My final point relates to subsection (3). We have had representations from Scottish Women's Aid, which says that, in many cases, an application by a father who may have been absent for some time can be made purely to try to renew abuse or perpetrate some psychological harm. Clearly that is not the intention of the new clause, and the provision in subsection (3) is important to give protection in circumstances where a father seeks to abuse legal procedures.