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Book reviews

19 September 11

Review of Family Law in Scotland (Thomson) - fuller version

by Susan Oswald

PUBLISHER: BLOOMSBURY PROFESSIONAL
ISBN: 9781847665607
PRICE: £44

Family Law in Scotland is not only the established text for students of family law, but an exceptionally useful reference book for practitioners. Next year sees its silver anniversary. With each edition over the years, the author has provided an informed account of the important changes in family law in Scotland. This sixth edition includes full details of the two most important statutes since the fifth edition, the Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act 2007 and the Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011.

The first eight chapters deal with the law relating to marriage and to civil partnership. The chapters on divorce/dissolution, and financial provision thereon, are particularly helpful, providing as they do a detailed account of the underpinning principles. The author provides clear illustrations, showing the intentions of the 1985 Act and also outlining some of the unintended consequences. Indeed for those readers who have had the pleasure of attending a lecture by the author, you can hear his distinctive voice as you read! There is also a useful chapter on the legal consequences of cohabitation and the property rights contained in the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006.

Chapters 9 to 15 deal with child law. The sections on the nature of s 11 orders and the welfare principle, together with the references to relevant judicial decisions, are a helpful starting point for anyone involved in child law.

The section on the Child Support Act 1991 provides an overview of the provision of financial support for children, and details of the new maintenance calculations under the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission – the Child Support Agency as was – though as at the date of publication, these calculations have not yet come into force.

The chapters dealing with adoption and children in need provide clear accounts of the 2007 and 2011 Acts already mentioned.

There have been remarkably far reaching changes in Scots family law in the last 25 years, with the law becoming ever more complex given the prevalence of the breakdown in adult relationships, the increasing role of the state in providing care for children at risk, the recognition of the many different types of adult relationships, and the medical advances in areas such as fertility and reproduction. This takes place against a background where people are more geographically mobile, and there can often be competing relevant jurisdictions as well as a need for domestic law to be ECHR compliant. This book is of practical use to both students and practitioners in understanding and keeping up with the changes in Scots family law.

Susan Oswald, Sheehan Kelsey Oswald

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