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27/05/20 17:37

Children Bill passes Stage 1

Young people’s views to be at heart of family law.

Legislation to ensure that the rights of children are at the heart of any family law case, and that their views are heard, has passed its first Parliamentary hurdle.

The Children (Scotland) Bill will further strengthen the family law system. If passed by the Scottish Parliament, measures will include regulation of child contact centres to ensure every one is a safe place for children to meet family members.

Child welfare reporters, who can be appointed when a court has been asked to resolve a dispute between parents, will also be regulated under the Bill. This will ensure reporters are trained to recognise and respond to issues such as domestic abuse and coercive control.

Other improvements for victims of domestic abuse and their children include allowing screens and a live video link to be used in Child Welfare Hearings, and preventing a party from conducting their own case if there is a vulnerable witness.

Speaking as Parliament voted to endorse the general principles of the Bill at Stage 1, Community Safety Minister Ash Denham said:

“Family breakdown can be very distressing for children and it is our responsibility to ensure that Scotland’s family justice system shows compassion and does not contribute further to their suffering.

“It is vital that in every case the best interests of the child remain paramount. We also need to ensure that all children are given the opportunity to have their views heard.

“In developing this Bill we have been guided by their views and experiences, and I’m very pleased that Parliament has signalled its general support for the measures we are seeking to introduce.”

Background

The Children (Scotland) Bill, and further information about the legislation, can be read on the Scottish Parliament website.