Family Justice Modernisation Strategy

Sets out our work to improve the family justice system in Scotland.

Part 1: Introduction

1.1 The 1995 Act is centred on the needs of children and their families. It defines parental responsibilities and rights in relation to children. It also sets out the

duties and powers available to public authorities to support children and their families and to intervene when the child's welfare requires it.

1.2 The Scottish Government sought views last year on reforming Part 1 of the 1995 Act and on creating a Family Justice Modernisation Strategy.

1.3 In addition to the full consultation, the Scottish Government produced child friendly questions which were available via SurveyMonkey. The Scottish Government received approximately 250 responses to the main consultation and 300 to the child friendly survey. The consultation document, the responses, where the Scottish Government have permission to publish them, and an analysis report are available online.[6]

1.4 During the consultation period the Scottish Government met with a range of individuals to hear their experiences of the family justice system. This included a number of events with children and young people.

1.5 The Scottish Government also asked the Children’s Parliament to engage with children to explore their views and ideas on themes raised in the consultation. The Children’s Parliament published a report on their findings.[7]

Next steps following consultation

1.6 The Scottish Government has continued to meet with organisations and individuals since the consultation closed. This includes meeting with children and young people. These meetings have helped to develop ideas on next steps.

1.7 The Children (Scotland) Bill was introduced in the Scottish Parliament on 2 September 2019. The key policy aims of the Bill are to:

  • ensure that the child’s best interests are at the centre of any contact and residence case or Children’s Hearing;
  • ensure that the views of the child are heard;
  • ensure further compliance with the principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in the family courts.

1.8 In cases involving domestic abuse, the Scottish Government wants to ensure that victims and children are protected appropriately during the family court process.

1.9 The Scottish Government recognises that primary legislation is only part of the action necessary to improve how family justice works. This strategy sets out work that is ongoing by Scottish Government and others; work that can be done via secondary legislation or by improved guidance; areas covered by the Bill; and areas that are for longer term work.

1.10 The strategy also sets out the reasons why certain areas that were in the consultation last year on the review of the 1995 Act are not being taken forward.

1.11 Each chapter of the strategy provides background to issues that were consulted upon or are of relevance then covers the aims of the Scottish Government in each area and the actions that are proposed by the Scottish Government.


1.12 If you have any comments about the Family Justice Modernisation Strategy please send them by email to or by hard copy to:

Family Law Team Room GW-15
St. Andrew’s House Regent Road Edinburgh



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