How can children give their views on contact issues?
At present there are various ways for obtaining children’s views during a dispute about contact. The court can issue an form-f09 for children to indicate their views. The sheriff can talk to a child or order a Child Welfare Reporter to prepare a report to court. The legislation that is being currently considered by the Scottish Parliament will include consideration of a range of other ways in which children can give their views and also whether feedback can be given to them about what the court decides. Shared Parenting Scotland considers that it is also very important to let the child know that their views are important but will not be the deciding factor, and also that any person who is obtaining children’s views should properly trained. If the Scottish Parliament also incorporates the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scottish law there may be further changes.
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.