81% public support for equal shared parenting law

The most substantial reform of Scottish family law for a generation has been making its way through the Scottish Parliament. The Children (Scotland) Bill has been largely unreported in the shadow of the COVID-19 emergency.

Shared Parenting Scotland commissioned an arm’s length public opinion survey which reveals support by a large majority for a change in the law to promote shared parenting where practicable when parents do not live together.

81.5% said Yes when asked whether they would support a change in the law to create a presumption of shared parenting meaning children spend half their lives with each parent unless there is a good reason not to.

73% agreed or or strongly agreed that sharing parenting equally takes pressure off both parents allowing them to balance work, family and social lives. A further 16% somewhat agreed. Less than 11 % disagreed or expressed no view.

59% agreed or strongly agreed that the sex of a parent should not be a relevant factor when courts are making determinations about the living arrangements for children after separation.  A further 17% somewhat agreed.

45% disagreed or strongly disagreed that one weekend a fortnight is enough time for their children to spend with mum or dad. A further 25% somewhat disagreed.

73 % agreed or strongly agreed that In the event of separation the long term well-being of children should be prioritised  over what is easiest for either of their parents. A further 15% somewhat agreed.

79% agreed or strongly agreed that mothers and fathers should have equally important roles in supporting their child emotionally, socially and financially. A further 10% somewhat agreed

Shared Parenting Scotland National Manager Ian Maxwell says, ”The survey results show a remarkable sense of fairness among the general public towards both parents and children when they are asked directly for their views.

The law as it stands does not guarantee fairness. Our adversarial system for parents who can’t agree arrangements for the care of the children facilitates a ‘winner takes all’ approach that privately most of those involved agree isn’t going to  best for the children involved.

A clear majority agree one weekend a fortnight isn’t enough time for children to spend with one of their parents but that’s what most sheriffs award.

Amending the Children (Scotland) Bill in this way will promote equality between parents and reduce the evident discrimination that many separated fathers experience. We believe it is time for Scottish family law to catch up with the reality of family life in modern Scotland. “