Child Inclusive Mediation in Parenting Cases

Date: Nov 15, 2009
Document Type: Article

Upon the breakdown of a relationship where there are children, if the parents are unable to reach agreement between themselves as to the parenting arrangements for the children, then there is a requirement to participate in mediation prior to contemplating any Court proceedings.

In the community there is a large number of service providers of mediation, most notably Family Relationship Centres which receive government funding to provide a few hour’s free service. The service provided by family relationships centres generally excludes lawyers from participating. 

If properly and carefully managed, mediation of parenting issues can not only address the legal issues as to what the parenting arrangements should be, but it can also address other non legal issues which will have a profound impact of the future development of your children.

Child inclusive mediation utilises the expertise of child consultants, who are qualified as child and family psychologists. Their role is to speak to the children to determine how life is for them in their current arrangements, post-separation. They are not asked to express a view or their wishes. The children’s view of their world is then disclosed to the parents by the child consultant in a feedback session prior to the joint mediation conference. Commonly the feedback to the parents is profound and powerful, and often has a strong influence on what arrangements the parents agree upon through the mediation process.  Upon the recommendation of the child consultant, the parties may agree to pursue other processes to help make the parenting arrangements work, such as a parenting after separation programme or family therapy in more serious cases.

By taking a carefully managed approach and addressing the non-legal/social issues, there is potential for parents to lead to a more positive future for their children post separation.   If parents litigated a parenting dispute to a contested hearing, then the Court would not be able to address or rectifying any non-legal issues as between the parties, nor their children’s future.

For assistance with Family Law matters, phone Dominic Wilson, Managing Partner of Craddock Murray Neumann, on (02) 82684000. We have Family Lawyers who are certified by the Law Society of New South Wales as Accredited Specialists in Family Law. 

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