Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill: child rights and wellbeing impact assessment
This CRWIA considers the impact of the Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill on children and young people.
Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment (CRWIA) Stage 1
Screening - key questions
1. Name the policy, and describe its overall aims.
The key aim of the Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill is to make civil partnership available to mixed sex couples in Scotland.
2. What aspects of the policy/measure will affect children and young people up to the age of 18?
People aged 16 and 17 will be eligible to enter into a mixed sex civil partnership.
The Bill may impact on children and young people who are the children of parents in a mixed sex civil partnership.
The Bill will also create the offence of forced civil partnership, to provide a deterrent against this activity. Recent figures from the Forced Marriage Unit showing that, in 2018, around one third of forced marriage victims in the UK were under 18 years old.
3. What likely impact - direct or indirect - will the policy/measure have on children and young people?
Eligibility to enter
The Scottish Government expects the number of 16 and 17 year olds who choose to enter mixed sex civil partnerships will be low.
Figures from National Records of Scotland show that the number of 16 and 17 year olds who marry or enter into a civil partnership is low.
In Scotland, in the period 2005 to 2018:
- There were 689 marriages where one party was 16 or 17
- There were 62 marriages where both parties were 16 or 17
- There were 3 civil partnerships where one party was 16 or 17
- There have been no civil partnerships where both parties were 16 or 17
Children of parents in mixed sex civil partnership
Mixed sex civil partnership could also impact children and young people indirectly if they are the children of parents who have entered into a mixed sex civil partnership.
However, the nature of the relationship that parents are in (e.g. a marriage or civil partnership) is not thought to have an impact on children; rather, research indicates that “Stability is more important than family structure for children’s well-being” (Mountney, K. (2011) Together and apart: supporting families through change, p1 and p11) and that family structure “did not seem clearly associated with social and emotional well-being, after allowing for other influences” (Sweeting, H. and Wight, D. (2014) Growing Up in Scotland: Family and school influences on children's social and emotional well-being, para. 4.9)
The Bill makes provision so that a man will be presumed to be the father of a child when he was in a civil partnership with the mother of the child at any time between conception and birth. The Bill also provides that a father in a civil partnership with the mother at the time of the child’s conception or subsequently obtains parental responsibilities and rights.
Forced civil partnership offence
The creation of the offence of forced civil partnership could indirectly impact young people. This is because the extension of civil partnership to mixed sex couples may create a loophole in the law.
In 2018, the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) gave support to 30 victims of forced marriage who were resident in Scotland: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/804044/Forced_Marriage_Unit_Statistics_2018_FINAL.pdf
Of the total 1,764 victims the FMU supported, 33% were under 18 years old (where the ages were known).
4. Which groups of children and young people will be affected?
People aged 16 or 17 who wish to enter a mixed sex civil partnership will be affected.
The children of parents who enter a mixed sex civil partnership may also be affected, but this will depend on whether the couple would have married anyway, or if they would have cohabited (in which event the father would not necessarily have formal parental rights and responsibilities).
In relation to the offence of forced civil partnership, young women and girls could be more affected. FMU statistics indicate that, where the sex of a victim of forced marriage in known, the majority (75%) are female.
5. Will this require a CRWIA?
CRWIA not required
Family Law Unit
Civil Law & Legal System
Deputy Director or equivalent
Civil Law and Legal System
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