Search Legislation

Children (Scotland) Act 2020


3.The policy objectives of the Act are to:

  • ensure the views of the child are heard in contact and residence cases;

  • further protect victims of domestic abuse and their children;

  • ensure the best interests of the child are at the centre of all contact and residence cases and children’s hearings; and

  • further compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in family court cases.

4.The Act contains 35 sections. It amends statutes concerning children, principally Part 1 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 (“the 1995 Act”) which includes provisions about parents and children, in particular concerning parental responsibilities and rights and related court orders. It makes amendments to section 11 of the 1995 Act on court orders relating to parental responsibilities etc. It also makes amendments to the Matrimonial Proceedings (Children) Act 1958 (“the 1958 Act”); the Family Law Act 1986 (“the 1986 Act”); the Vulnerable Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2004 (“the 2004 Act”); the Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act 2007 (“the 2007 Act”) and the Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011 (“the 2011 Act”).

5.The Act includes provision on taking account of children’s views and the explanation of decisions to children, and on the protection of vulnerable witnesses and parties in court in cases concerning children. It makes provision about regulating child welfare reporters, curators ad litem, and contact centres (where services are provided for maintaining contact between children and those they are not living with). It makes provision about the use of alternative dispute resolution in certain proceedings concerning children. It also makes provision about recognising parental responsibilities and rights obtained outwith the UK, about extending the enforcement powers of the Sheriff Court, and about delay in proceedings.

6.A detailed explanation of the Government’s purpose in introducing the Bill for the Act can be found in the Policy Memorandum (see the parliamentary history table at the end of these Notes). The Policy Memorandum also sets out the Government’s policy intentions underpinning the Act. At the same time as the Bill for the Act was introduced to the Scottish Parliament a Family Justice Modernisation Strategy was published(1). This sets out work that is ongoing by the Scottish Government and others, work that can be done via secondary legislation or by improved guidance and areas for longer term consideration.

Back to top


Print Options


Explanatory Notes

Text created by the Scottish Government to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes were introduced in 1999 and accompany all Acts of the Scottish Parliament except those which result from Budget Bills.


More Resources

Access essential accompanying documents and information for this legislation item from this tab. Dependent on the legislation item being viewed this may include:

  • the original print PDF of the as enacted version that was used for the print copy
  • lists of changes made by and/or affecting this legislation item
  • confers power and blanket amendment details
  • all formats of all associated documents
  • correction slips
  • links to related legislation and further information resources