Child inclusive mediation is something of a new phenomenon in the area of legal practice in Australia. There has long been research about including children in the legal process where parents are in dispute about parenting arrangements. However, it has only been in the last decade that this has been integrated into dispute resolution practice.
What is a child-inclusive mediation?
Child inclusive mediation is a form of alternate dispute resolution that allows children to have a voice in the process of their parents’ separation. The child’s views are shared through a professional that attends the mediation. This professional, usually a social worker or a psychologist, is trained in the area of child development, attachment and trauma.
Prior to the mediation, the social worker or psychologist has intake sessions with the parents and the children, as does the mediator. This is to gain an understanding of what is going on for each person and what they would like to achieve out of the process.
The social worker or psychologist then relays the information in the mediation (the child or children do not actively participate on the mediation day) and makes recommendations to the separating parents about what they can do to make the transition easier for the children. This is in the context of the children’s attachment, age and stage of development. The social worker or psychologist plays an important role, alongside the mediator, in assisting the parties negotiate an outcome that is both child-focussed and the most appropriate for their situation.
Benefits of child inclusive mediation
The benefit of doing a child inclusive mediation is that parents gain an understanding of their children’s experience of separation which enables them to make more informed and deliberate decisions about matters to do with the children.
Research also suggests that children do not feel like they are heard in family proceedings and their views are not taken seriously and this is a process that allows for children to express their wishes in a safe environment.
The social worker or psychologist and mediator are impartial throughout this process. It is simply their role to assist the parents navigate their way through discussions, in a child-focussed manner, to assist them in making a decision that will be in the best interests of the children.
Another benefit of this process is that it gives parents insight into what a court might decide in the future where parents are in dispute about parenting arrangements for children. If a matter does proceed to court and there are competing views about parenting arrangements for the children, the court is likely to enlist the assistance of a Family Consultant to provide their expert opinion about what parenting decision would be in the best interests of the children. By participating in a child inclusive mediation, you get the benefit of hearing from a professional whilst still getting to control your own outcome through the process rather than the court.
Child-inclusive mediation with Life Law Mediations
At Life Law Solutions our Nationally Accredited Mediator, Fraser Murray, has had many years of experience working alongside child experts and is trained to facilitate child inclusive mediations.
If you would like to find out more about this process we would love to hear from you. Book an appointment here or phone us on 07 3343 9522.