The Scottish Justice system looks at representing the best interests of children when families break down
The Scottish Parliament has this week called for views on the Children Bill (Scotland), introduced on the second of September 2019. This Bill will aim to best represent the voice of the child and needs and choices on children when families break down and couples divorce or separate. It also seeks to make child contact centres to be better regulated.
These important steps will help with compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in family court cases.
According to the Scottish Government, the aims of the Bill are to:
1.) Ensure the views of the child are heard in contact and residence cases;
2.) Further protect victims of domestic abuse and their children;
3.) Ensure the best interests of the child are at the centre of contact and residence cases and Children’s Hearings; and
4.) Further compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in family court cases.
The Bill makes various changes to existing legislation try to achieve these aims, including:
1.) Encouraging the views of younger children to be heard, by removing the presumption that a child over the age of 12 is of sufficient age and maturity to form a view;
2.) Establishing registers of child welfare reporters (who can seek the views of the child or undertake other enquiries and make reports to the court) and curators ad litem (who can be appointed to safeguard the interests of a child during the proceedings);
3.) Protecting vulnerable witnesses in court in cases concerning children, for example, by prohibiting a party personally questioning a witness where there are allegations of domestic abuse;
4.) Adding to the list of factors the court must consider when making decisions about contact and residence;
5.) Regulating child contact centres, where services are provided for children to maintain contact with parents and other family members they are not living with;
6.) Promoting contact between looked after children and siblings; and
7.) Recognising parental rights and responsibilities obtained with the UK.
You can read more, become involved in expressing your views and get further information at: https://www.parliament.scot/gettinginvolved/112981.aspx