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Analysis of Family Law consultation responses, 13/10/04 [S]

An analysis of responses to the Scottish Executive's proposals for modernising family law shows that they have been broadly supported. There was support for PRRs for unmarried fathers who register their child's birth jointly with the mother, the introduction of greater legal safeguards for co-habiting couples and some qualified support for step-parent responsibilities and rights agreements. Views were mixed on reducing the periods of non-cohabitation required to constitute grounds for divorce and the majority of respondents considered that it would not be appropriate to introduce an automatic right of contact for grandparents.

Other findings include:

  • The court system was viewed as inappropriate to deal with Family Law in Scotland in terms of its adversarial, costly, tardy and old fashioned ways

  • Some respondent's argued that appropriate aspects of the Children's Hearing System could be incorporated into a new court approach to family law

  • It was felt that there was a need for greater public awareness of Family Law issues particularly in relation to responsibilities and rights and the law as it applies to cohabitants

  • The three core principles that will guide the reform - the best interests of children, support for families and the reality of families in Scotland today were endorsed. Some argued however that the law should be even more child focused

  • A general theme to emerge was the requirement for greater efforts to be put into preparing for, supporting and working at marriage

  • Respondents called for more substantial, consistent and longer term funding for support services, particularly reconciliation services

  • It was argued that Family Law should be kept as simple as possible


The consultation took place between 5 April 2004 and 28 June 2004. Over 300 written responses were received.

The full report Improving Family Law in Scotland: Analysis of Written Consultation Responses was written by Linda Nicholson, The Research Shop.

The document is available on the Scottish Executive website along with reports on focus groups and an event held by the Scottish Civic Forum.

Further Information

  1. Family Law Consultation: Interactive Focus Group Exercise
  2. Improving Family Law in Scotland - Report from three events held by the Scottish Civic Forum
  3. Improving Family Law in Scotland: Analysis of Written Consultation Responses