Monday, 6 February 2012

Scottish perspective on families as Justice Secretary announces plans to overhaul family justice system

Justice Secretary, Ken Clark, this morning outlined plans to overhaul the family justice system:

To provide a Scottish slant on families we have brought together some key research findings from CRFR and from the Growing Up in Scotland (GUS) study.

· 1 in 5 children do not live with their father. Of these children over 65% have contact with their non-resident parent, and most have frequent contact of once a week.[1] Where fathers pay maintenance, there is usually more contact with children and less conflict between parents.[2]
· The majority of shared-parenting arrangements are decided between the parents, with just 5% of families going through the court system.1
· Almost all families with young children receive some form of support from the child’s grandparents. Of the two-thirds of families in Scotland with a child aged under 2 who use childcare, 60% used grandparents for some or all of this care.[3]
· Family change can be disruptive for all members of a family and that families need to be supported through this process. Children and young people experiencing family change through the divorce, separation or re-partnering are also more likely to experience other changes such as moving house, town and/or school.[4] Family disruption or absence of a family member, in addition to other changes, can stack up and push the balance towards risk for all family members.[5]
· When children are older at the time of their parents separation it alters the children’s relationship with both parents, not just the one who becomes non-resident. Children feel better when they can see by the way their parents act, that they still have an important place in both of their parents’ lives.[6]
· Conflict does not necessarily lead to unhappier relationships. How conflict happens and how it is dealt with is what matters, and can influence the impact on children.[7]

For more details on the work and research of CRFR visit:

GUS has been tracking the lives of 8000 Scottish families and their children since their birth in 2005.For more details on Growing Up in Scotland visit:

For more information on About Families, visit:

[1] Growing Up in Scotland Topic Research Findings No. 1/2009, Non-resident parenting Summary Report,
[2] Mountney K.,and Morton, S. (2011). Together and apart: supporting families through change, Briefing 2, June 2011. Available from
[3] Bradshaw, P., Jamieson, L., and Wasoff, F. (2008). Use of informal support by families with young children. Edinburgh: Scottish Government.
[4] Highet G and Jamieson L (2007) Cool with change: young people and family change. Edinburgh: CRFR.
[5] Marryat, L & Martin, C (2010) Growing Up in Scotland: Maternal mental health and its impact on child behaviour and development' Edinburgh; The Scottish Government.
[6] Highet G and Jamieson L (2007) Cool with change: young people and family change. Edinburgh: CRFR.
[7] Mountney, K., and Morton, S., (2011) Together and apart: support families through change. Briefing 2, June 2011. Available from:

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