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Family law consultation submission

Families Need Fathers Scotland has submitted our response to the Scottish Government Consultation, alongside about 280 other submissions.

Amongst the main points we made were proposals for extending parental rights and responsibilities, creating a rebuttable presumption of shared parenting in Scottish law, family court cases to be conducted on an inquisitorial rather than an adversarial basis, compulsory mediation information and extended use of family mediation.

We also suggest that Scotland undertakes trials of the use of Parenting Co-ordinators to support families once an initial determination has been made in court or through mediation. These should be professionals coming from family law, mediation, family therapy or social work backgrounds, trained and experienced in all these areas so they can provide a more comprehensive and longer term service than Child Welfare Reporters, Curators or Safeguarders.

This type of work is now used extensively in the USA and other countries in order to assist, support and guide separating parents to work effectively after separation. Rather than the family courts having to make all minor decisions such as on pick-up details and holiday dates, the parenting co-ordinators are tasked by the court to do this work.

Parenting coordination is a hybrid ADR process used with high-conflict parents, and the PC wears many hats. The Association for Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) Task Force on Parenting Coordination (2006) defines parenting coordination as a child focused alternative dispute resolution process in which a mental health or legal professional with mediation training and experience assists high conflict parents to implement their parenting plan by facilitating the resolution of their disputes in a timely manner, educating parents about children's needs, and with prior approval of the parties and/or the court, making decisions within the scope of the court order or appointment contract (p. 165).

Although the American experience is very positive, we would suggest a fully evaluated pilot scheme is the best way to fully explore whether this approach will benefit children and parents and provide significant cost savings.


FNFS guide promoted in Government "Learning Together" strategy

The Scottish Government's newly published national action plan on parental involvement, parental engagement, family learning and learning at home 2018 - 2021 includes various commitments to improve engagement of fathers. 

The action plan was launched by Deputy First Minister John Swinney who said that it sets out a vision for parental engagement for the next three years and promises to "raise the bar yet higher", by supporting every parent and family on their "educational journey".

The Scottish Government will work with Fathers Network Scotland and Families Need Fathers Scotland to ensure that all key guidance and training materials relating to parental involvement and engagement are “father friendly”, fully reflect the role of dads, and reflect the principles of father-inclusive practice.

They will also work with local authority partners and parents to consider and address barriers which may prevent separated parents from being involved and engaged.  The Scottish Government will promote the Children In Scotland/Families Need Fathers Scotland  Helping Children Learn guidance on involving separated parents to all schools.

FNF Scotland national manager, Ian Maxwell, says, "We have worked hard over the years both to help separated parents build a productive relationship with their children's school and equally to convey to schools that separated parents are too often an untapped resource in support of their children's learning.

We are delighted that the Action Plan is so clear in its expectation that schools must become more parent friendly, more father friendly and more separated parent friendly. We will do whatever we can to assist in that process.

We will continue to raise with Mr Swinney and with CoSLA the imperative that the system of pupil enrolment forms must be overhauled. They should ensure the contact details of both parents are included and given equal status. The existing practice of giving only a limited list of 'entitlements' to non-resident parents should stop. The practice is not rooted in any educational benefit to the children and is fundamentally discriminatory."


£1032 raised for FNFS at Dundee Kiltwalk

A ten-strong team of walkers raised more than a thousand pounds for the charity at the Dundee Kiltwalk on Sunday 19th August.  Congratulations to Erin, Ian, Jacqueline, Jane, John, Louis, Miranda, Paul, Alastair & Steve

The funding included £250 that had been donated by guests at Ed and Miranda's recent wedding to recognise the support they have had from Families Need Fathers Scotland.  Another £20 was given on the day by one of the spectators at the walk.  The donor was a grandmother who wanted to support our work because of all the contact problems that her son had suffered.

Everyone enjoyed the six-mile Wee Wander from central Dundee along the Tay shore to Monifeith. Despite gloomy weather forecasts the afternoon was dry and cool.

Following our fundraising success on the Glasgow and Dundee Kiltwalks, we are making a final push to have a really big presence at the Edinburgh Kiltwalk on 16th September.  To sign up and join the FNFS team contact Alastair Williamson or see our fundraising information.


The Road and the Miles to Dundee

We have 8 people signed up to take part and raise funds for FNF Scotland in the Dundee Kiltwalk on August 19th.

Our team page if you would like to support us is here.

There's always room for more on the team so please get in touch if you'd like to join us on the day.


Family law consultation extended until September

The deadline for responses to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 has been extended until midnight on 28 September 2018.  This change has been made because many of the responding organisations were finding it difficult to meet the early August deadline because of the school holidays.  It had already been announced that some consultation with children and young people was going to take place later in August after the schools have resumed.

Families Need fathers Scotland is working on our response and we have already held well-attended meetings in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee, Stirling and Paisley to discuss the issues.  Our response will be presented on our web site and we have already published a note of our main points.

Now that there is some more time, we repeat our appeal for parents to respond to the consultation so that your own experience can be heard.  When making a submission about your own case, be careful to avoid using names or other identifiable details.  You don't need to answer all 54 questions, just select the ones that are relevant to you.  Get writing.