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Call to Change Scotland’s Family Law, Protect Children from Divorce Court Conflicts

April 20, 2016   /  Uncategorized   /   no comments

A charity is asking Scotland to update its outdated family law, so children don’t get caught in conflicts arising in divorce court.

Relationship Scotland is asking for the Scottish Government, family law experts and charities to support their call to make it a legal requirement that divorcing parents must consider mediation before taking court action, so that kids don’t get caught in the conflict.

The Children and Families Act in England and Wales has made it a rule that mediation must be taken before going to court. This is the opposite in Scotland, where meeting with a mediator is only required in legal aid cases, but not in divorce.

Relationships Scotland’s chief executive Stuart Valentine said that “Parents often lose focus on their children as they battle with their ex-partner”. This is why the level of awareness and understanding about family mediation should be increased. The charity is calling for an urgent debate about the topic.

Research shows that mediation has several advantages over court action.

  • It is quicker and more effective, with around 70% of mediation cases resulting in agreement.
  • It is less costly.
  • It helps divorcing parents find solutions together for their children’s best interest.
  • It provides a realistic option during a crisis or emotional meltdown.

Valentine said that it’s often unrealistic to expect parents to research and consider all their options at a time of emotional turmoil. There is a need for the government to act now to help families and parents find a solution on their own, rather than rely on the court to make it for them.

Neil Pryde from Arboath had two children when he and his wife filed for a divorce. When it was clear that they can’t reach an agreement during divorce proceedings, they turned to mediation. It turned out to be a better option, as it helped them find a resolution quickly. In just a few sessions, the divorcing parents reached a 50/50 childcare agreement.

In a report, the Justice Committee in Scotland acknowledged that more of the country’s cases would benefit from mediation.

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