Family law covers a wide range of areas related to families, couples and children - including divorce, parental rights and responsibilities, and inheritance.
We are committed to modernising family law and improving people’s experience of the family justice system.
- reforming the family justice system to strengthen children's rights and further protect victims of domestic abuse
- extending civil partnership to all couples
- modernising inheritance law (succession) to make it fairer and better reflect changes in society
We also publish guidance for family law professionals such as information for child welfare reporters on carrying out the role.
We have also produced a guide to child welfare reports for parents involved in a legal dispute about a child's upbringing.
Family law and Brexit
We have been preparing for what happens after Brexit if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, including:
- preparing regulations and accompanying impact assessments to make provision in respect of EU Regulation 2201/2203 (Brussels IIa) in the event of the UK leaving the EU without a deal. This covers the procedure for settling cases in which a parent abducts a child from one EU country and takes them to another. It also sets out which country is responsible for dealing with matrimonial matters and parental responsibility in disputes involving more than one country
- consulting with stakeholders on potential changes to family law in Scotland
- producing guidance for legal professionals on cross EU-border family disputes
We published a family justice modernisation strategy in September 2019 which sets out work to improve the operation of family justice.
Bills and legislation
We introduced the Children (Scotland) Bill to the Scottish Parliament in September 2019. Alongside this we published impact assessments covering equalities, business, child rights and wellbeing, Fairer Scotland, data protection and island communities.
We introduced the Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill in September 2019. This was published alongside impact assessments covering: equality, business, and child rights and wellbeing. This Bill passed Stage 3 on 23 June 2020. It obtained Royal Assent on 28 July and became an Act on that date.
The Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Act 2019 removes the defence of “reasonable chastisement” from the law. John Finnie MSP introduced this Act to the Scottish Parliament. We support the removal of the defence. You can find out more about this Act, its background and what we have done to prepare for it in our factsheet.
Family Law Team
St. Andrew’s House