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Entries in consultation (12)


Reform moves a step closer for civil cases in Scotland

The newly published Courts Reform Scotland Bill is intended to overhaul the whole system in order to direct proceedings to the most appropriate judge and court and make civil justice quicker and cheaper.

The most direct areas of concern for FNF Scotland are the proposals to develop  'specialisation' among sheriffs. The tradition up to now has been that any sheriff should be able to turn his or her hand to any matter that lay within the jurisdiction of Scottish civil law. Lord Gill, who carried out the original civil justice review, recommended increased specialisation in areas such as personal injury, commercial law - or family law.

In practice the larger courts already do this to some degree but it isn't really practical in the smaller courts. Some of the smaller courts are already marked for closure with their business being moved to bigger courts.

Another significant proposal is the creation of a new category of 'summary sheriffs' who might end up dealing with some contact and residence matters.

Lord Gill's review also highlighted the need for better forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) which could easily be relevant to family cases. The most often mentioned form of ADR in family cases is mediation in its various forms but some separated parents have also tried arbitration.

While ADR might not need legislation, FNF Scotland will be pressing for it not to be forgotten in amongst the court reform.


Consultation on civil court reform

Changes to the way civil courts work in Scotland have been announced at the start of a consultation period on proposed legislation

The proposals provide the legal framework for implementing the majority of recommendations of the Scottish Civil Courts Review, led by Lord Gill.

The proposals discuss a redistribution of business from the Court of Session to the sheriff courts, creating a new lower tier of judiciary in the sheriff court called the summary sheriffs with jurisdiction in certain civil cases and summary criminal cases.

Other proposed measures include the creation of a new national sheriff appeal court and a new national specialist personal injury court.

FNF Scotland welcomes views from members about these changes, and will respond to the consultation. Our response will include suggestions about the importance of identifying high-conflict cases at an early stage, the need for Sheriffs to have a clear understanding of how such cases can be resolved, and the need to avoid delay in re-establishing contact with children when cases reach court and for contact orders to be enforced effectively.


English consultation on co-operative parenting

Tim Loughton MPDivorced or separated parents who play the system to "freeze" their ex-partner out of a "meaningful relationship" with their children should face tougher penalties, according to English Children's Minister Tim Loughton.

His comments to the Westminster Justice Committee come as a consultation on co-operative parenting following family separationis launched by the English Department nfor Education.

The consultation refers to situations in which children's needs are being overlooked in disputes about care arrangements between separated parents.

It states that: "In too many cases one parent is left in a position where it is very hard to retain a strong and influential relationship with his or her child. The Government firmly believes that parents who are able and willing to play a positive role in their child's care should have the opportunity to do so."

"The aim of the proposed legislative amendment is to ensure that this happens in court cases and to reinforce the expectation generally that both parents are jointly responsible for their children's upbringing."

"The Government also believes that a tougher approach is needed in cases where court orders are breached, and it intends to explore the scope for additional enforcement sanctions for the courts."

Families Need Fathers Scotland is bringing these developments to the attention of Scotland's politicians.


Children's Rights Bill: children should not have to choose between parents.

Many responses to the recent consultation about next year's Scotttish Children's Rights Bill suggest that the Bill should include more than the original proposals if it is to make a real difference to children's rights.

Families Need Fathers Scotland raised a particular point in our response, relating to the way in which children are consulted.  While consulting with children and involving them in decisions is fundamental to Children's Rights, we suggested that they should not be put in the position of being asked to chose between their parents.

Our response mentioned situations where children are being asked for their views on contact or residence with one of their parents after separation.

While we fully support the need for these views to be obtained in a sympathetic and supportive manner, there are situations in which these views should only contribute to a final decision, not be a deciding factor.

In other words, it is not in the interests of children to put them in the position of having to choose between their parents.

We will pursue this point as the legislation proceeds.


National Parenting Strategy must include separated parents

Families Need Fathers Scotland has been raising questions about the needs of parents through its four local group meetings in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling. 

These comments, plus further feedback from the parents and grandparents we are in touch with, will help us to present the view of separated parents to a national consultation conducted by the Scottish Government to prepare a National Parenting Strategy, due for publication this Autumn.

Interviewed in the Sunday Herald, the Children and Families Minister Aileen Campbell stated: "... the aim is to include all parents across the country."  The FNF Scotland  response aims to present the views of parents living apart from their children.

Views are required on questions such as "What makes you feel confident as a parent?" and  "What practical things would make a difference to you in your parenting role?" as well as information on the challenges they face and the sources of advice and support that are available or required.

Anyone wanting to add their own comments should get in touch with Ian Maxwell at FNF Scotland on 0131 557 2440 or ian.maxwell@fnf.org.uk.