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Family Law and Children:
The Family Law Act, 1975, focuses on the interests of children as being the most important thing in any decision made between separating or divorcing parents. This means that for all professionals working in Family Law this has to be our paramount focus as well. Top
Child Inclusive Mediation:
Consequently we at Northern Beaches Mediation have made our practice a child inclusive practice. This means that, as appropriate, we employ a Child Consultant to meet with the children, so our clients, the parents of these children, have an opportunity in their mediation to be as well-informed as they can be while making decisions for their family.
In this process children are consulted about their experiences/expectations of their parents’ separation and conflict, and their needs/wants in light of these. This material is then fed back to the parents in the first mediation session. This allows the parents thinking and decision making to come from an informed viewpoint. Top
Research on separation/divorce shows clearly that:
The majority of children are not adequately informed about the separation/divorce and its Implications for their lives.
They are also not adequately consulted for their ideas regarding contact arrangements, and how they are working for them, both emotionally and practically. (Kelly, 2002, McIntosh, 2000, Smart & Neale, 1999).
Children are put at greater risk by parental conflict that continues beyond separation and which compromises parents ability to provide their children with emotional stability.
The buffers that most protect children’s development from parental conflict are:
- the extent to which the conflict is resolved.
- the quality of parenting and other support
In a Child Inclusive Practice consultation children are supported through:
- Validation of experiences of loss and confusion
- Opportunity to talk individually
- Opportunity to talk with their siblings
- Opportunity to have their views and concerns conveyed to their parents in a safe and contained manner
- Opportunity to talk about very difficult feelings such as sadness, anger and loyalty binds
- Learning coping strategies for difficult times
- The possibility of their wants and needs being acted upon
What makes a successful Child Inclusive Practice:
- Children are age and stage appropriate
- Parents’ have a genuine want to improve things for their children
- Parents are willing to listen to the views of their children
- Parents have sufficient maturity and ego strength to hear what their children have to say
- Parents are willing to consider children’s views in decision-making
- Both parents genuinely regard the process as helpful and give their consent to the process
- Children give their consent to the process
- Both parents and children accept the rights of the other to confidentiality about what they say
Follow up to Child Inclusive Practice:
At the conclusion of the session with the children, the parents are then given feedback. The purpose of this is to:
- Facilitate identification of the children’s key needs regarding recovery and adjustment
- Promote the inclusion of children’s interests in mediation
- Provide referral for additional help, if needed
Contact Us for more information or to make an appointment