Understanding child-centred family mediation
Going through a family breakdown or separation is a common yet challenging experience for both parents and their children. It is important that the needs of children are met and that their concerns and desires are heard during this time in order to avoid placing additional stress on them.
Child-centred family mediation can help to identify the needs and experiences of children involved in a separation and determine which parental arrangements are most suitable.
Here is everything you need to know about child-centred family mediation.
Family Law Act
The majority of disputes related to children are a result of unresolved relationship issues rather than legal issues. As such, the Family Law Act requires separated parents to make a genuine attempt to resolve disputes through resolution or mediation before attending any court proceedings (there are exceptions to this, such as in cases of family violence). This helps parents cut down on court-related expenses and stresses. Many people successfully come to an agreement through doing this.
Family mediation is the process of resolving a parental dispute with the help of a third-party mediator. The mediator will provide a comfortable environment in which each party is free to discuss their issues and determine the best options for reaching an agreement.
Having a mediator present can help to minimise parental conflict, identify the most useful actions in regards to their children’s needs, and focus on working towards a resolution. Mediation provides a confidential and informal alternative to attending court for a dispute resolution.
How child-centred family mediation is different
Family mediation works best when the children are the focus. Children benefit greatly when both of their parents are positively involved in their lives, and their behaviour and self-worth are strongly correlated to the degree of parental conflict occurring.
A child-centred family mediation service will involve having a qualified child consultant talk with the children and share the children’s feelings and needs with their parents.
All families are different, which means that parental arrangements will vary depending on the needs of the individual child. Trying to establish a routine as quickly as possible is best for the children as it helps them to adapt and limit conflict and stress.
Children’s needs include:
- To be listened to
- To be included
- To be supported, loved and cared for by both parents
- To see both parents often; and
- To be free from conflict.
It is difficult for children to be the focus of mediation if there is a strong level of conflict between the parents, as this can create an obstacle to agreeing upon parenting arrangements. High levels of parental conflict also create great inner conflict in children. While going through a separation can be stressful, it is important to try to resolve parental conflict as soon as possible for the sake of the children involved.
Once parental conflict abates and the parents begin talking calmly, children will experience great relief. A safe, loving and harmonious environment is ideal for the wellbeing of young ones.