It is vital that in every case the best interests of the child remain paramount and there is also a responsibility on all involved to ensure that all children are given the opportunity to have their views heard.
The Scottish Government website has advice and information for anyone looking for guidance following a divorce or separation, including on the creation of a ‘Parenting Plan’ as a voluntary agreement.
Last year legislation was passed by the SNP Scottish Government aimed at making family court proceedings easier for children. This removed a presumption that only children aged 12 and over are mature enough to be heard.
It will also ensure that a court should, where practicable, use a child’s preferred method of giving their views, and explain decisions to children in ways they can understand. A child will be presumed to be capable of giving their views unless the contrary is shown.
It was not considered appropriate or necessary to include provision in this legislation imposing a requirement on the court to consider the possibility of one parent deliberately turning a child against the other parent in every case.
However a register of Child Welfare Reporters was established, to ensure individuals appointed to this role meet minimum standards in terms of training. It is envisaged that this training would include being able to recognise situations when a child has been turned against a parent.
We have passed legislation to incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into domestic law and the Scottish Government will robustly defend efforts by the UK Government to overrule this.
If re-elected, we will create child assemblies to follow the citizens’ assembly model and ensure that children under 16 have the right to representation and to make their views heard.