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Entries in Referendum (1)

Thursday
Aug072014

Scottish referendum: changes for separated families  

Some commentators have compared the Scottish Independence Referendum to a divorce or separation process, and the arguments about who gets what powers and resources if there is a Yes vote on September 18th may seem awfully familiar to many separated parents.

As a registered charity, Families Need Fathers Scotland cannot enter the debate on one side or another, but we can provide information about potential changes to various systems that affect separated families

Family law in Scotland is already distinct from the rest of the UK, and Scottish courts are independent, so there is not much scope for change.  However, one aspect of family law would be affected if Scotland becomes independent.

Cross-border issues, such as decisions as to whether contact cases should be heard in Scotland or elsewhere in the UK, applications to move children to other parts of the UK, and enforcement of court orders within the UK can be problematic at present.  Sometimes there is a race to reach the preferred court first.

If Scotland were to become a separate state  and sign up to to international treaties such as the Hague and Brussels Conventions some of the processes and relationships between the Scottish and other UK courts might become clearer. 

Whatever the result, FNF Scotland will continue to press for this cross-border process to be made simpler and clearer.

Health, housing and education law and systems are separate in Scotland already, so the referendum result is unlikely to bring about much change.

Social security including child support is decided at UK level and built on UK-wide law at present so there is scope for major change to occur were Scotland to separate. There have been suggestions from various sources that in the event of a No vote further powers might  devolved in this area but nothing has been specified as yet.

Child maintenance already has some different features in Scotland, such as Scottish children of 12 and over being able to apply for maintenance and the 12-month period during which a Scottish Minute of Agreement takes precedence over an application for child support.  If Scotland was no longer part of the UK a new child maintenance system would have to be created and the existing operations of the CSA and its successor the Child Maintenance Service would have to be separated out.

Many other parts of the social security system, such as the workings of Child Benefit and other benefits and tax credits, the "bedroom tax" and the support offered to single parents are currently decided almost entirely at Westminster.  A few decisions are already made by Scottish Government or individual Scottish local authorities, such as eligibility criteria for school clothing grants.

Employment law, which includes factors affecting families such as parental leave, is all decided at Westminster, although support for childcare for working parents is affected by decisions made at both Holyrood and Westminster.

None of the laws and systems affecting separated parents will change immediately, but whatever the result of the Referendum, there will be a need for both reconciliation and mediation after September 18th.