Attending a Child Welfare Hearing
Parents who are involved in a family court case should always be allowed to attend Child Welfare Hearings unless the Sheriff has decided that this should not happen. Ordinary Cause Rule 33.22A (5) states that “All parties (including a child who has indicated his wish to attend) shall, except on cause shown, attend the Child Welfare Hearing personally.”
This was not possible in the early stage of lockdown due to restrictions in the telephone conferences used to conduct child welfare hearings, but now that all sheriff courts are using Webex video conferencing there should not be any problems in parents attending. In our response to the recent consultation on future online and face-to-face court hearings we stressed that family case court hearings should all return to face-to-face in court unless the hearing is only to conduct procedural business.
Can a 12 year old decide what happens about contact?
The current current Children (Scotland) Act says that the court should allow a child to express views and have regard to them as far as possible. It also says that the court should take account if the child’s age and maturity and that “a child twelve years of age or more shall be presumed to be of sufficient age and maturity to form a view” (section 6).
The Children (Scotland) Bill may extend or remove the mention of the age of 12. Whatever the age, the views of a child are not the deciding factor, although the older the child the more impact their views will have on the final decision.
My lawyer has suggested that it will improve my chances of getting more contact if I do parenting classes – who runs them?
Look on your local council web site to see if they run any suitable classes, or try contacting organisations like Parent Network Scotland or Mellow Parenting. A Google search should show up smaller local organisations in your area. You may find that some classes say that they are only for parents who have contact with their child – try politely and firmly to persuade them that you need the training to help resume contact.