Scotland Children Bill will give youngsters a voice in court
New legislation in Scotland should help ensure children’s best interests are at the centre of every family law case and that children’s views are heard by the court.
Proposals under The Children Bill include regulation of child contact centres to ensure they are safe places for children to meet family members, the Scottish Parliament has announced.
Child welfare reporters, who may be appointed when the court has been asked to resolve a dispute between parents, will also be regulated. This will ensure reporters are trained to understand and respond to issues such as domestic abuse and coercive control.
Other improvements for domestic abuse victims and their children include allowing special measures such as screens and a live video links to be used in Child Welfare Hearings, and prohibiting a party from conducting their own case if there is a vulnerable witness.
Ash Denham, Community Safety Minister Ash Denham said: “We know that family breakdown can be very upsetting for children. It is our responsibility to ensure the family justice system is supportive and does not contribute to their distress. That means putting the best interests of the child first in every case and ensuring their voice is heard, including younger children.
“Children’s welfare is paramount and we have been guided by their views and experiences in developing this bill. More than half of responses to the consultation came via our child-friendly questionnaire.”