Children (Scotland) Bill


About the Bill

A Bill for an Act of the Scottish Parliament to amend the law relating to children; and for connected purposes.

According to the Scottish Government, the policy aims of the Bill 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 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.

Current status of the Bill

This Scottish Government Bill was introduced by the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Humza Yousaf MSP, on 2nd September 2019. 

The Bill makes a number of changes to section 11 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995. The Scottish Government has produced a Keeling version of section 11, which shows the effect of the various amendments made in the Bill.

Stage 1

The Justice Committee was designated lead committee for Stage 1 scrutiny on 2 September 2019.

The Committee expects to hear oral evidence on the Bill at the following meetings:

  • Tuesday 17 December 2019
  • Tuesday 7 January 2020
  • Tuesday 14 January 2020
  • Tuesday 21 January 2020
  • Tuesday 28 January 2020
  • Thursday 20 February 2020
  • Tuesday 25 February 2020

A SPICe briefing paper on the Bill can be found here. SPICe have also published a briefing paper on how other legal systems deal with parenting disputes, which can be found here.


The Justice Committee launched a call for views on Friday 20 September 2019, with a closing date of Friday 15 November 2019

Read the call for views

Read the written submissions

As part of its scrutiny of the Children (Scotland) Bill, Members agreed to commission an external academic to review both the current law and the proposed reforms in the Bill from a human rights perspective. That work was undertaken by Dr Lesley-Anne Barnes Macfarlane of Edinburgh Napier University. A copy of her Report, Balancing the Rights of Parents and Children, can be found below, along with a summary of the Report.

Note of informal meeting with YELLO!

On Tuesday 4 February, Members of the Justice Committee met with five young people from YELLO!, the young expert group for the Improving Justice in Child Contact (IJCC) project. The young people in YELLO! have all experienced domestic abuse and have been supported by Scottish Women’s Aid’s children’s services.


Scottish Government note/minute of the virtual roundtable on family courts and the pandemic, December 2020


Read the Stage 1 report


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