The Children (Scotland) Act 1995 is currently under review by the Scottish Government. The Government aims to update existing legislation, as well as ensure that the interests of children and their need to form and maintain relationships with key adults in their lives (i.e. parents, grandparents, step-parents and other family members) remain a central concern to any new measures introduced.
The Act defines parental responsibilities and rights in relation to children. It also outlines the duties and powers available to public authorities responsible for supporting children and their families, as well as courses of intervention when a child’s welfare is at risk.
As part of the policy-making process and to help inform the Government’s decisions, a public consultation was organised. The consultation sought out views regarding a reform for Part 1 of the Act, which focuses on parental rights and responsibilities, and closed at the end of September. The consultation also covered other matters related to family law, including the Children’s Hearing System.
Following an analysis of the consultation and other available evidence, a Family Justice Modernisation Strategy will be created. This strategy will outline current and future work which seek to improve how family cases are dealt with.
The Law Society of Scotland has recently published their response to the Government’s review, calling for the child-centred approach of the existing legalisation to be retained following the reform. They have also requested that further steps are taken to improve the law concerning children. This includes clarifying the contact rights of siblings, as well as better regulation and proper funding of contact centres.