It is crucial to hear about how your child or adolescent is experiencing their parent’s separation. Child inclusive mediation incorporates children having an interview with a qualified child consultant who speaks with the children in a separate session and will provide feedback to the mediator and the parents to assist understanding of the child’s voice, experiences and future needs. Then parents then proceed to mediation where they are better equipped to make child focussed decisions in a dispute resolution setting.
What is a Child Consultant?
A Child Consultancy assists you to focus on and support your child(ren) through family separation. By taking the time to understand the separated family issues, talk to parents and then spend time with the children to gain understanding of their experiences for feedback.
What is involved?
The way a child reacts to a stressful event such as family separation is complex and unique. Supporting children throughout the separation process and encouraging a continued relationship with the all family members is an important responsibility for parents. Research on the impact of separation on children has shown that ongoing parental conflict can result in negative psychological consequences for children.
Children and Young People may not understand all they are feeling and often don’t have the words to be able to ask for help. Parents may instead notice changes in behaviour which are unusual for their child. It is important to remember that there are positive steps parents can take to reduce the likelihood of emotional and behavioural problems for their child.
Child Consultancy supports parents to understand the impact of separation on their child. A child consultant meets with the child and provides information and support to parents to assist their child to cope with the family separation.
Who are Child Consultants?
Child Consultants are experienced Professionals who specialise in working with children and young people and families. They have extensive knowledge of the developmental and emotional needs of children and young people during separation.
At NLS Law our Child Consultant is Chanel Hughes: she has an extensive professional history of working with children and families in a safety/ trauma intervention environment , Community Development in Early Intervention for Families. Chanel is also a qualified FDR practitioner . Chanel is a mother of two and knows that parenting and relationships in life are challenging and that there is always a way forward but that it might take some work to get there.
What is involved?
Step 1: Parents can be referred during a mediation process or may request a session when concerns for their child’s adjustment to separation are raised. Even if a Child Consultant does not see a child/children in a particular case, the Child Consultant may still meet individually with the Parents.
Step 2: If Child Sessions are appropriate and are offered, then both parents in Family Dispute Resolution will speak with the child consultant and provide written consent for their child to be seen before the process can continue.
Step 3: The child consultant can then meet with the child, or in the case of sibling groups several children may be seen at the same time.
Step 4: Within the Family Dispute Resolution session, parents will be provided feedback around how their child/children is/are coping with the separation and will be supported to assist their child to manage any problems they may be experiencing. Parents may also be provided with relevant referrals at this time.
Step 5: This information may then be used in the Family Dispute Resolution process to assist parents to make decisions in the best interest of their child.
Note: All communication between the child consultant and child is confidential. Child consultants assess the overall wellbeing of the child and provide feedback accordingly. However an exception to Confidentiality may occur if a Duty of Care Issue arises.
This process will only occur if it is in the best interest of the child.
Who Is Child Consultancy For?
Separated families with children undergoing Family Dispute Resolution, including those in de facto or same sex relationships. Children must be at school to participate in child consultancy (however younger children are sometimes seen as part of a sibling group and at the discretion of the Child Consultant and the Parents), and we will conduct an assessment to determine if Child Consultation is appropriate for your situation.
The Benefits of Child Consultancy
It allows both parents to receive independent professional feedback about how their child is coping with the family separation.
Parents will get to hear about what is working for their child and how they can continue to support their child post separation.
Parents often report being able to negotiate more objectively during Family Dispute Resolution as they have information which centres the process on their child’s needs.
Your child has the opportunity to express how they feel freely, and their experiences and perspectives are placed in greater focus for parents when deciding on future care arrangements
If further support is needed referrals can be discussed for both children and parents.
At NLS Law helping children and parents navigate and survive separation is important to us. If you would like to discuss the involvement of a Child Consultant in your case, please contact NLS Law.
Chanel Hughes, Child & Family Consultant, NLS Law