New protections for children in family break-ups

3 September 2019, 08:42 | Updated: 3 September 2019, 08:44


New legislation has been introduced in a bid to ensure children's interests are put first when family break-ups end up in court.

The Scottish Government has published proposals to ensure the best interests of youngsters are at the centre of family law cases and their voices are heard by the court.

The Children (Scotland) Bill also includes plans for the regulation of child contact centres to ensure they are safe places for youngsters to meet family members.

Child welfare reporters, who can be appointed by the courts to help resolve disputes between parents, will also be regulated, making sure they are trained to understand issues such as domestic abuse and coercive control.

The Bill, if passed, would mean youngsters could give evidence from behind a screen or via video link in child welfare hearings.

It has been put forward following a consultation that included a special child-friendly questionnaire.

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."

She added: "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."