News In Focus
Call for views launched on Children (Scotland) Bill
Proposals to reform the resolution of disputes over children after parents separate have been put out to consultation by Holyrood's Justice Committee.
MSPs on the committee are beginning their stage 1 scrutiny of the Scottish Government's Children (Scotland) Bill. The bill seeks to increase children's say during legal proceedings, regulate court welfare reporters and child contact centres, and increase protections for vulnerable witnesses, among other proposals. It aims to ensure that the best interests of the child are at the centre of contact and residence cases and children’s hearings, and to secure further compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in family court cases. (Click here for report.)
However it has also been described as a "wasted opportunity" by campaigners seeking a greater emphasis on shared parenting arrangements and a less adversarial approach.
Speaking as the call for views was launched, committee convener Margaret Mitchell MSP, said: “The Committee recognises this area of family law has always been contentious, with different groups having their own viewpoints.
“Balancing the rights and responsibilities of children, mothers, fathers, siblings, grandparents and wider families and step-families is difficult to get right. Particularly when every case has its own individual circumstances where the specifics matter.
“The committee will be a forum to hear those viewpoints, to consider whether the right balance has been struck in this bill, and perhaps to propose amendments.
“Whatever views you have on the proposals, making your feelings known to the committee is an important step towards creating a law that works for as many people as possible. Committee members therefore urge people to get in touch.”
Click here to access information on the bill, and here for the call for evidence. Submissions are requested by 15 November 2019. The committee expects to take oral evidence on the bill from late this year into early 2020.