Last Wednesday 30th March, I attended a Relationships Scotland event, hosted by HBJ Gateley Wareing in Glasgow and attended by family law professionals across Scotland. The event was of particular interest given the recent review of family law in England and Wales, one element of which concerns the fact that mediation for divorcing couples shall, as of 6 April 2011, be compulsory prior to them attending Court, subject to limited exceptions. For further information on this see a blog post by a FLL (Liverpool). While mediation for divorcing couples is not yet compulsory in Scotland, it is becoming more widely available.
What is Parenting Apart?
Parenting Apart groups give parents the skills and confidence to communicate with their children about their separation or divorce in child-friendly language. Importantly, parents get the chance to chat with others going through the same as them. Groups are hosted by two family mediators giving parents the chance to speak to a qualified professional about any issues around parenting their children or their relationship with their ex-partner following their split. When the time comes for a divorce, either one partner gets full custody or they split it, however, if one of the partners decided not to take part in the care of the child the other can consult with child support lawyers to see how they can receive financial support from the other.
Key Speakers at the Event
Although I have seldom practiced family law myself (although I do now work with family lawyers), I still found the event very informative with speakers conveying ideas with clear expression.
Speakers included the following people who should be contacted should you wish further information on any of the topics discussed, it also gave information on going through divorce without an attorney, as some couples choose that road.
– HBJ Gateley Wareing’s family law partner, Shona Templeton, who set the scene, exploring the changing face of collaborative family law within Scotland;
– Mark Stalker, who is a service manager with Family Mediation South Lanarkshire. A former solicitor, Mark discussed the the impact of the Parenting Apart project throughout South Lanarkshire;
– National Development Manager with Families Need Fathers, Ian Maxwell discussed how fathers can become involved in the collaborative process. I would also add that I met one of Ian’s colleagues, John Forsyth, who is a support and development worker with Families Need Fathers and is contributing greatly to the Scottish family justice system; and
– Stuart Valentine, the Chief Executive of Relationships Scotland, who explained how Parenting Apart fits in to the wider national picture of family support.
If you have any specific queries on family law in Scotland, complete our contact form (see top right of this page) or any of the contacts mentioned above.
Finally, I would also like to thank Ross McCulloch both for organising a great event and for inviting me and many other lawyers to it.