THE Children (Scotland) Bill published today (September 3) includes some important measures, but fails to embed the radical change that could bring family law in line with the reality of family life in modern Scotland.

It fails to recognise that today the involvement of mothers and fathers is far more equal and sharing, not least in the parenting of their children in most homes. That's encouraged as a good thing in itself. But if parents separate, custom and practice tends to revert to an old-fashioned “mother carer/father breadwinner” stereotype.

That's a serious issue when family courts come in, asked to make decisions when parents can't agree arrangements for sharing time and decision-making for their children.

Families Need Fathers Scotland hears horror stories at every one of our six-monthly support meetings across Scotland. Sometimes it's the horrific cost, commonly running into tens of thousands, to continue to be the parent you were.

Sometimes, it's about the length of time it takes to get a case heard in court. Eight weeks is a very long time to wait if you have been used to seeing your children every day since they were born. And that eight weeks usually only begins after weeks or months that were taken up arguing through lawyers or trying to mediate.

The new bill requires the court to "have regard to any risk of prejudice to the child’s welfare that delay in proceedings" would pose, but it could do far more.

In the Cochem family court in Germany judge Jurgen Rudolph saw this happening to parents who hadn't committed domestic violence or other crimes – they simply couldn’t get on with each other and their arguments over what was best for their children were amplified by the Court process.

So Judge Rudolph ensured a court hearing would happen within 14 days of an issue being raised. Lawyers were limited to one page of a written submission. Oral presentation in court was emphasised. Parents and children were given support from integrated local services. If agreement couldn't be obtained parents were sent to mediation or counselling, to report back to him in another 14 days.

This speedy approach worked. The Cochem model is now being tried all over the world.

This kind of reform could unblock the Scottish family courts and save money along the way. Savings could be used to provide help for separating parents rather than fund a child contact battlefield.

Belgian law changed in 2006 to introduce a presumption of 50:50 shared care when parents can't agree. Either parent can present argument against this starting point Now more than half of rulings are for shared care.

Some Scottish sheriffs refuse to order anything like shared parenting in court whatever the children were used to before.

We are urging Scottish Government to try out radical ideas that work elsewhere to change our adversarial family courts into places where important decisions about children's lives can be taken quickly and effectively. It needs a change of attitude as well as a change of law.

Ian Maxwell, National Manager, Families Need Fathers Scotland, Edinburgh EH12.