A Snapshot of Shared Parenting Scotland’s Efforts in 2021

Our annual ‘user survey’ gathers feedback on the quality of the service we have provided to clients over the year. It also highlights the systemic issues separated parents encounter while trying to maintain a meaningful relationship with their children after divorce or separation.

We take some comfort from the statistics showing the degree of appreciation for our efforts over the year in terms of the advice, insight and information we have been able to pass on. Sometimes the benefit for some callers to our helpline or attendees at our monthly group meetings is only that they talked to someone who understood their pain and distress at having to fight to be a parent to their children.

You can see the statistics and some of the comments below.

However, it remains a profound concern for Shared Parenting Scotland as an organisation and individually for our staff and trustees that our family law system remains adversarial rather than problem-solving, and short term rather taking the long view of the benefits to children over years and decades of maintaining a meaningful relationship with both their parents.

Our survey revealed the thousands and tens of thousands spent by individuals that would be better spent on their children in the future. It also shows the number who were unable to find a family law solicitor accepting legal aid clients in substantial areas of Scotland. We have made representations to the Scottish Government and to the Scottish Legal Aid Board on both issues.

Scotland is not a leader in resolving matters when separated parents can’t agree on how to share parenting – they need constructive help to see the bigger picture for their children and not to be ushered down the adversarial legal route. Our children deserve better.

You can see the results and some accompanying comments below.

95% found meeting an SPS staff member helpful, with 1 in 4 finding it “life-saving”.

“As a grandparent the moral support provided by Alastair has been tremendous.”

“An SPS staff member attended a school meeting with me and contacted other organisations on my behalf.”

“Direct speaking, direct assistance!”

94% found attending a group meeting helpful. 12% found it “life-saving”

“Having the moral support of the group really helped … let me know I wasn’t on my own.”

“Just knowing there is support there has been beyond helpful.”

69% reported experiencing less stress and anxiety since contacting us

“I’m more able to deal with negative behaviour calmly.”

“Sometimes just discussing distressing issues and getting a balanced second opinion is valuable.”

55% had increased contact with their children after contacting us

Had no contact with the kids for 4 years. Now come every second weekend. Going great.”

50% reached agreement with the other parent without court action

“With the help of SPS my ex-wife and I have been able to look at our family dynamics from an entirely different perspective. That enabled us to set aside our previous differences to concentrate on the needs of our child.”

38% had difficulty in finding a legal aid lawyer despite qualifying for legal aid
1 in 4 had a court case settled within a year. 38% had their case lasting more than 3 years
47% had paid out more than £10,000 in legal fees and court costs. Some had spent more than £100,000