Where there is a dispute involving a child before a court in Scotland, the law provides that the court ought to allow that child an opportunity to express his or her views. The court must have regard to these views in making a decision, bearing in mind the child’s age and maturity. The law provides that a child aged 12 and over is presumed to be of sufficient age and maturity to form a view. This does not prevent a younger child from expressing his or her view, however the older the child is, the more weight a court is likely to attach in coming to a decision.

If a child is considered sufficiently old enough, they will be asked to complete a form to confirm whether they wish to provide such a view. In Sheriff Court actions, it has, until now, been unclear whether a copy of the court pleadings should also be provided to the child. There has been a difference in approach throughout the legal profession in relation to this issue.

A change to the Sheriff Court Rules will now make clear that the pleadings ought NOT to be provided to the child. This should avoid any upset that sight of the pleadings may cause, at a time when the child may already feel vulnerable.

It is hoped that parents can resolve matters relating to the children outwith the court process but where a court action is necessary, the new rules on intimation on children make the process clearer.