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Scottish Government publishes Children Bill

Modernisation strategy published for family justice

The Scottish Government has published new legislation that aims to ensure that children's best interests are at the centre of every family law case and that children's views are heard by the court.

Provisions within the Children Bill include regulation of child contact centres to ensure they are safe places for children to meet family members. Child welfare reporters, who may be appointed when the court has been asked to resolve a dispute between parents, will also be regulated in order to ensure reporters are trained to understand and respond to issues such as domestic abuse and coercive control.

The Bill, if enacted, would also introduce measures intended to support domestic abuse victims and their children, such as allowing screens and a live video links to be used in child welfare hearings, and prohibiting a party from conducting their own case if there is a vulnerable witness.

Commenting on the Bill, Ian Maxwell from Families Need Fathers Scotland said:

"While measures regulating child welfare reporters and contact centres and on taking views of the child are welcome, the Bill as it stands is a massively wasted opportunity.

"Families Need Fathers Scotland will press hard during the Scottish Parliament's consideration of the Bill for equally shared parenting to become the starting point if a court has to decide about arrangements for children after separation."

A Family Justice Modernisation Strategy has also been published, setting out additional work to improve the operation of family justice through secondary legislation, enhanced guidance and longer term work.

For the Bill, click here.