Every fortnight we highlight the work of our member organisations and outline how other individuals and NGOs can support them.
Tell us about the work of Shared Parenting Scotland?
Shared Parenting Scotland is a small charity supporting separated parents who are either trying to make shared parenting work or who are trying to regain contact with their children. We take helpline enquiries and run four support group meetings across Scotland every month. Family lawyers attend each meeting and between these sessions we run WhatsApp groups for people to share information.
Reaching agreement with your ex partner about arrangements for children is never easy, but children almost always benefit from the full involvement of both parents. We would like to see shared parenting becoming the norm after separation in Scotland as it is in some countries such as Sweden. This needn’t always involve a 50:50 split but both parents should be fully involved in key decisions and should have children with them for at least 30% of the time.
We have known about Together for a long time but were excited to finally become members last year!
What projects are you currently working on?
We are about to publish the first ever guide for teenage fathers, to help them understand their position.
How can children and young people make their views heard to influence your work?
Finding effective ways to take the views of children into account during a contact dispute is essential. Although some progress has been made in recent years, such as the revised F9 form, Scotland still lags far behind in this area. There are very good examples of how this can be done, both from Scottish services such as Avenue in Aberdeen and from projects in Australia and Canada. Current changes in the way family courts work and also the full implementation of UNCRC should help to improve how this happens in Scotland.
Does Shared Parenting Scotland influence policy development on issues affecting children and young people?
We were very active during the passage of the Children (Scotland) Act last year and we continue to seek things like proper training and oversight of the Child Welfare Reporters who report to court about arrangements for children. In complex and highly conflicted cases this work should be done by people with the appropriate professional skills and experience, and decisions should be reached as quickly as possible.
Court decisions about contact and residence are of fundamental importance to children and shouldn’t take many months or even years. Unfortunately, this still happens all too often in Scottish court cases.
What do you enjoy most about being a member of Together?
The networking opportunities that membership offers.
How can other organisations or individuals get involved or support your work?
Passing on our details to parents who need help with shared parenting would be helpful. By working together we will be able to refer people to your organisation if they need a service that you offer.
Finally, if your organisation was an animal what would it be?
A penguin! These animals provide a very good example of both parents getting fully involved in bringing up their children.
You can find out more about Shared Parenting Scotland on their website.