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Child Contact Proceedings for Children Affected by Domestic Abuse

This briefing paper provides an overview of preliminary research work carried out for Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People. The Commissioner identified the issue of safe contact as particularly important to children and young people who have experienced domestic abuse.

The purpose of this research was to provide the Commissioner with information about current practices and procedures in Scottish child contact proceedings for children affected by domestic abuse, from a children’s rights perspective. Three types of proceedings are considered:

  • family actions;
  • children’s hearings proceedings; and
  • adoption and permanence orders.

The research examines how the concepts of ‘best interests’ and ‘the voice of the child’ are used in these proceedings. It also investigates where guidance and training on this topic may already exist. It identifies current gaps in knowledge and practice and offers advice on how the Commissioner can work to address these. The full report contains a detailed narrative of the legislative framework, review of case law and training and guidance.

Three approaches were adopted to carry out this preliminary research work:

  1. A review of relevant legislation and associated regulations and guidance
  2. Analysis of Reported cases
  3. Desk-top research to identify relevant professionals’ training and guidance, complemented by consultation with 12 adult stakeholders.

The stakeholders represented a spread of expertise, across the professional roles and organisations of: child and family law solicitors and advocates, children’s hearings training, Judicial Studies Committee, Sheriffs, the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (SCRA), safeguarders, and those that train social workers.

Added: February 5, 2015
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