The law requires parents to make a genuine effort to resolve disputes in relation to their child before resorting to the Courts. Here, Dobinson Davey Clifford Simpson outlines a process available to parents which gives their children a voice—child inclusive mediation.
What is child inclusive mediation?
Child inclusive mediation provides a child with an opportunity to tell their story and express their views in a safe, confidential environment. It can assist separated parents to better understand how their child is coping with the separation and parental conflict—views that may not be expressed in the confines of the family dynamic.
What are the steps?
Parents must first agree to child inclusive mediation (although in some cases the Court will order it). This can be done through an organisation such as Relationships Australia. Each parent usually begins with one individual session with a mediator. The parents then meet together with the mediator for a joint session. If the matter is appropriate for child inclusive mediation, the child will then be interviewed by a child consultant. Subsequently, parents will be given feedback from the consultant for the purpose of facilitating on-going parenting devoid of conflict or dispute.
What is the youngest age for a child to be involved in this process and how long does it take?
This depends on the child’s maturity and developmental stage but can involve a child as young as 5. The interview takes between 20 minutes and an hour. Parents should expect mediation to take about 5 sessions.