Children have been placed at the centre of long-awaited reforms to family law, according to ministers.
More family mediation will be offered to couples
The new bill would give full parental rights and responsibilities to unwed parents if they are registered on the child's birth certificate.
It also says that more mediation should be offered to help couples divorce with the minimum of acrimony.
The bill contains proposals to cut the length of time a married couple must be separated before they can divorce.
Deputy Justice Minister Hugh Henry said that the executive was putting children at the centre of the reforms.
He said family law was not intended to interfere with family life, but should operate as a "safety net".
"It is there to make sure that when parents lose their balance, the interests of children are not allowed to slip away," he said.
Mr Henry said that the reforms aimed to reflect the changing shape of society.
The proposals include reducing the period a married couple must be separated before they can obtain a divorce from two years to one if they both agree, and from five years to two if there is no consent.
There will be legal safeguards for cohabiting couples.
A single national helpline will be created to offer advice and information for families experiencing difficulties.
The bill also emphasises the need for children to be at the centre of family settlements, with increased support for family mediation services.
However, grandparents will not be given automatic access rights to see their grandchildren.
Mr Henry said ministers were not convinced that this was the best way forward.
Instead, a grandparents' charter is being drafted to reflect the positive role that they can play.
Jimmy Deuchars, a founder of the Grandparents Apart self-help group, said his organisation and the executive agreed about the problem and the changes required.
"We are delighted with the grandparents' charter," he said.
However, he said that grandparents should be given legal rights.
"The executive's reluctance to make it legal is not showing enough confidence in their own judgement," he added.
"The problems have been ingrained in society for so long that a soft approach will take a long while to work, if it works at all."
The Church of Scotland and the Catholic Church agreed that increased support is essential for both adults and children when marriages break down.
The churches said they shared views on many of the issues, although they differed on subjects like legal rights for cohabitees and the reduced time for divorces.
"Much of the proposed legislation concentrates on issues arising from family breakdown," they said in a joint statement.
"Both churches are in agreement that resources directed towards marriage preparation and maintenance would reduce the numbers of broken marriages.
"Both churches have great concern at the high levels of divorce and family breakdown."
The Scottish National Party's justice spokesman, Kenny MacAskill MSP, said the bill should be "broadly welcomed".
"Putting the needs of the child at the heart of the legislation has always been the position in Scotland and so it must remain," he added.
However, the Scottish Tories' justice spokeswoman, Annabel Goldie, questioned how the bill would protect children.
"Allowing quickie divorces and greater rights to cohabiting couples are surely not the kind of measures driven with the best interests of children at heart," she said.
"All the evidence tells us that a child born to a married couple will do better at school and is less likely to suffer from emotional problems.
"Marriage should not be undermined by any changes."