Although I have a great deal of sympathy with amendment 41, I will not support it. Anyone who can show an interest in a child can make an application to the court at present—I use the word "interest" in its legal sense. Grandparents, aunts, uncles or associates who have been involved in the life of a child may already seek a contact order, residency or some role in a child's life. Children—often surprisingly young children, perhaps eight or nine—can be questioned by a sheriff if it is felt that they can
Grandparents often play a supportive role in relationships, although, as I learned in my 12 years of practice, some grandparents can be mischief makers when a couple are trying to reach a divorce settlement—they may pitch parents one against the other by saying things such as, "I wouldnae let him have access to the weans." Grandparents are like everybody else: a mixed crowd.
It is good to bring the issue of wider family members to the chamber and sheriffs should take cognisance of it. However, we should not enshrine it in statute.