New rules on family law

Sep 06, 2016

New sheriff court rules will prohibit a copy of an initial writ being sent to children in family and civil partnership actions. The initial writ is the document that normally starts civil actions in the sheriff court. 

Where children are to be notified about a family action that affects them, the sheriff court rules specify the document (called the Form F9) that must be used in order to tell the children that the action has been raised, and to ask if they wish to express any views. The rules do not say whether a copy of the initial writ should be attached to the form. This is quite different from how the rules deal with other people who are notified of family actions in certain circumstances. In those cases, the rules are very clear that a copy of the initial writ must be attached to the form of notification.

Feedback from an informal consultation carried out by the Council’s Family Law Committee suggested that there were widespread differences in approach among the legal profession, with many considering that the initial writ does have to be sent to a child. In light of this, the Committee decided that the rules should be clarified.

The new rules therefore make it clear that when children are notified about a family or civil partnership action, they must not be given a copy of the initial writ. Not only will this spare children the upset of seeing all that is said in the writ, it will reduce the number of occasions where children do not receive notification about family actions simply to prevent them seeing the writ. It is hoped that the rule change will lead to a greater number of children being informed about family and civil partnership actions, and possibly increase the number of children who can therefore give their views. 

The new rules will come into force on 3 October 2016.

For more detailed, legal information see the Latest Court Rules section on the Home page.

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