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Consultation on Lay Assistants

Provisions of the Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010 that could allow lay representatives to speak on behalf of people who are representing themselves in civil courts come into force on 1st September 2011.

A working group chaired by Lord Pentland is now seeking views on their proposals about how this change will work.  A paper on lay representation in the Court of Session and the Sheriff Courts has just been published, with submissions due by the end of August.

Families Need Fathers Scotland will submit our comments, including the organisations' experience of the McKenzie Friend system in England and Wales. 

We would like to hear from anyone who is representing themself in the Scottish courts or acting as a lay assistant.   Contact john.forsyth@fnf.org.uk or ring 0131 557 2440.


Fathers in the Scottish family courts

For those who weren't able to attend our event in Glasgow on 1st June, we now have the film version of Janys Scott's talk.  To view in full screen select the "x" icon next to the Vimeo link bottom right.   The event was reported here.


Select committee reports on child maintenance reform

The Work and Pensions select committee has issued their report on the Government's proposals for reform of child maintenance

Families Need Fathers is concerned that the Work and Pensions Committee’s recommendations would risk demonizing parents paying child maintenance. The report seems to presume that where there are difficulties with the arrangement and collection of maintenance payments, the responsibility for this will lay solely with the parent living apart from the children. (FNF response to the committee report.)

The original proposals completely ignored Scottish aspects of child maintenance.  The select committee report includes written evidence from John Fotheringham of Fyfe Ireland Solicitors regarding the lack of Scottish input into the Green Paper, raising questions about how the proposed gateway would work in Scotland and suggesting that the 12 month rule regarding registered minutes of agreement should be extended to five years.


GMC consultation on child protection

 The General Medical Council are carrying out a public consultation to develop new guidance for doctors on issues of child protection.  A draft set of guidance and questionnaires for medical practitioners and the general public are available on their web site.

Key issues emerging during the development of the guidance included the benefits of good and constructive communication with parents and carers.  The draft guidance includes consideration of how doctors should update a patient's records when concerns of abuse are unsubstantiated and of standards for report writing and delivery of evidence.

This guidance will apply across the whole of the UK and it is important that the views of separated parents are taken into account  The consultation will be running until the 14th October 2011.


About Changing Families

About Families is a lottery funded project about putting research evidence into action on various apects of family life in Scotland.  Their latest topic report on how families can be supported both together and apart in relation to separation and divorce has just been published.

It provides a useful roundup of recent research evidence, which also shows up some gaps such as the lack of information about families affected by disability.

While the overall study is very useful in raising the need for more support for parents, FNF Scotland does have concerns about one comment in the section on "non-resident parents".

It raises the question:  "how can services support parents in understanding and adapting to their new roles as primary care-giver or non-resident parent?"

We would suggest that shared or collaborative parenting is a way of escaping from these markedly unequal roles.   Shared parenting does not necessarily mean a 50:50 split in time or residence, but it does mean that both parents are significantly involved in care giving and decision making.

About Families is a partnership between the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, Parenting across Scotland and Capability Scotland.