Skip to main content

Family Law across the UK – Enforcing Child Arrangement Orders in Scotland

People moving to live and to work in other countries has never been so popular. This includes movement within the United Kingdom, with Scotland's 2022 census recording the highest ever Scottish population at (5,436,600.00). This has been a direct result of inward migration.

It’s therefore not surprising that the Irwin Mitchell Family Law Team has seen an increase in consultations from separated parents, where one party is moving to Scotland, and are seeking advice about how this will impact arrangements for their children. In such cases, a Child Arrangements Order might be necessary. Irwin Mitchell’s new partnership with Wright, Johnston and Mackenzie could not have come at a more appropriate time. 

Child Arrangements Orders are made by the Family court who set out who a child lives with and the time they spend with the other parent. There is a “no order principle” in England and Wales, which means that the Family court will only make an order in relation to a child if it is deemed necessary. However, if a parent plans to move to Scotland, it might be that a Child Arrangements Order is needed to confirm arrangements for the child and provide certainty for both parents. 

Whilst England and Wales operate under the same legal system, the Family courts in Scotland have their own rules. It’s therefore important for parents to understand the impact that a move to Scotland will have on their existing Family court order. 

Registering a child arrangements order in Scotland 

Parents should not assume that the Scottish courts will automatically recognise and enforce their order, and there are certain steps which need to be taken. 

To be enforceable, the order needs to be registered in Scotland. This is important for both the parent who is moving to Scotland and the parent remaining in England. 

It’s important for an order to be enforceable. If, for example, the parent who moves to Scotland decides to go against the terms of the order and restrict contact with the parent in England, the parent in England could apply to the Scottish Court to enforce the order. The parent in England won’t need to start the court process from scratch and make a new application, which will be costly, time consuming and further delay the left-behind parent’s contact with the child. 

The law in relation to registering orders in another part of the UK is contained in the Family Law Act 1986. The procedure to register orders can be quite convoluted but the Family team at Irwin Mitchell has significant experience of dealing with such matters and can provide clients with expert advice about the steps which need to be taken in the event of moving to Scotland. 

Visit our website for more information on international divorce