Date lodged: 21 April 2017
To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to encourage couples with children who are separating to use mediation services.
Answered by: Mark McDonald 3 May 2017
The Scottish Government recognises the importance of relationship support, given the impact that divorce and separation can have on children. That is why we provide significant funding to enable mediation services to be provided, including for couples who are separating and who have children. As we did in financial year 2016-17, in 2017-18 we will provide nearly £2 million to Relationships Scotland and The Spark through the Children, Young People and Families Early Intervention Fund, enabling them to deliver a range of services to support separating families, including mediation and counselling.
We have also funded Relationships Scotland to establish and promote a ‘Parenting Apart’ service, designed specifically to help separating or separated families support their children.
The ‘Divorce, separation and living apart’ section of our mygov.scot website provides parents with a range of helpful information, including a specific section on ‘Using mediation after a separation’.
In the coming months we will publish a refresh of the ‘Parenting Agreement for Scotland’, a guide to help parents who live apart or are separating make practical arrangements for their children.
Family mediation costs may be met through the legal aid budget. In addition, where legal aid funding is being sought for a contact or a residence action the Scottish Legal Aid Board ask for information on the steps taken to avoid litigation including details on whether mediation has been considered.
The Scottish Government encourages mediation in appropriate cases but also recognises that there will be cases where mediation is not appropriate.