New research examines children’s rights to participate in legal disputes

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New research led by the University of Stirling will examine the rights of children to participate in family law cases.

Scots law provides children with the right to be involved in decisions when their parents separate, such as about which parent they will live with, as well as their relationship with the other parent. However, actual practice may vary. 

Stirling’s Dr Fiona Morrison, together with colleagues from the University of Edinburgh and Clan Childlaw, will examine law and practice in Scotland, and internationally, to establish the current position for children and identify potential solutions to the challenges and barriers in this area. 

The research is being funded by the Scottish Government and coincides with its review of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995.

“The Act has played a vital role in advancing children’s rights in Scotland,” said Dr Morrison. “But despite this, it is recognised that practice around children’s rights to participate in family actions could be improved.

Dr Fiona Morrison

Dr Fiona Morrison.

“Our study comes at an exciting time. The Act is under review, and our work will provide evidence on how law and practice might change so that children are better able to take part in the legal decisions that affect their lives.”

The research is a collaboration between the Centre for Child Wellbeing and Protection at the University of Stirling, the Centre for Research for Families and Relationships at the University of Edinburgh and Clan Childlaw.

The findings of the project, will be used to shape the future of family law in Scotland, and how courts deal with cases involving children.

Legal Affairs Minister Annabelle Ewing said: “It is important that we address the barriers to children’s involvement in family law cases and findings from this research will inform next steps following our consultation on a review of family law in Scotland.”

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