Improvements for Grandparents and Grandchildren to help maintain their relationship.

The Scottish Government recently reviewed the Children (Scotland) Act and sadly declined to change the legal status of the relationship between the generations, despite their being an existing hereditary legal connection.

However, some improvements have been achieved within the systems which help families when problems arise. The Family Justice Modernisation Strategy shows non-legal changes which will help families in different difficult circumstances.

A Grandparent used to be easily excluded because they were deemed to be an ‘irrelevant person’. The definition of a ‘Relevant Person’ now includes anyone who has had significant involvement in a child or young person’s upbringing, which could include a grandparent. Keep a diary and note details to show you are or have been significant in your grandchild’s life.

The updated Act requires the court to consider the effect any order might have on a child’s relationships with other people. This could include the child’s relationship with their grandparents.

Minister Ash Denham has committed the government to actively promoting the ‘Charter for Grandchildren’ and highlighting ‘Your Parenting Plan’ which promotes the importance of grandparents and the wider family in a child’s life.

Court systems will also be improved and modernised to make any hearings more family friendly. Courts will in future have to inform the child of their decision. A child of any age can now give an opinion and professionals involved will be adequately trained in how best to ascertain that opinion in a manner suitable to the age of the child.

All professionals will now have updated training, including Trauma Training, to improve the way they deal with families and better support children in difficult situations. However, trauma training seems to lean towards the assumption that the abused parent is female and there remains a significant danger that male victims are not believed or adequately supported.
During consultation Women’s Aid had a huge influence on changes without the equality of input from organisations which support abused men.

The government have now committed to finding ‘alternatives to court’ by promoting other forms of dispute resolution e.g. mediation, arbitration, collaborative law, family group conferencing and family group therapy.

We can only hope that these changes impact positively on families and children in particular.

Grandparents Apart UK

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