Aspects of family law


Kate Dowdalls QC

Team members

Lorraine Stirling, Project Manager
Katie Hendry, Legal Assistant

A review of particular aspects of family law is being undertaken by the Commission’s family law team, following the appointment of Kate Dowdalls QC as Commissioner for the project in July 2018.  The review of aspects of family law was announced in our Tenth Programme of Law Reform (February 2018), and we envisage that the project will be a medium-term one, expected to take 5 years to complete.

The family law team is currently carrying out a scoping exercise for the project which it hopes to have finalised towards the beginning of 2019.

The first aspect of family law that we are likely to be reviewing is the law of cohabitation in the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006, focusing in particular on financial provision for cohabitants whose relationship breaks down. It has been suggested that the Family Law (Scotland) Act 1985, which reflected Commission recommendations, may be a useful model for considering a new scheme for financial provision on the breakdown of cohabitation. This aspect of the project is likely to involve some comparative work.

Thereafter there may be scope for a law reform project in the areas of remedies for domestic abuse. This would consider, amongst other matters, whether the existing legislative framework is adequate and sufficient to provide the victims of abuse and violence with prompt and effective protection.

Both topics were put forward by a large number of respondents to the Commission’s consultation on its Tenth Programme, who commented that the law in relation to both required to be reformed and clarified.

We anticipate that during the life of the project we may issue a number of Discussion Papers, with the Discussion Paper addressing the law of cohabitation likely to be issued first. 


If you require further information about this project, or if there are matters you wish to raise on the topic, please email: