Child Inclusive Mediation

for Parenting Arrangements

Child Inclusive Mediation post separation makes sense.

How it Works

Blue Sky Child Inclusive Mediation provides the expertise and focus for parents who are in dispute after separation, to prioritise the best interests of their child when agreeing upon parenting arrangements.

Our highly qualified and experienced Child Consultant meets with your child to understand their experience of the family post separation and to elicit their views regarding future parenting arrangements.

The Child Consultant then works directly with our Qualified Mediator and Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner to provide a therapeutic mediation process. The Child Consultant throughout the Mediation provides feedback regarding the child’s views and experience and expert advice as to how the current and future living arrangements might impact on the child’s adjustment, wellbeing and development.

Portrait Of Smiling School Kids Standing In Circle At School

Step 1 Child sessions with Child Consultant

  • Allow 1 hour per child.
  • The child attends a meeting with the Child Consultant only. The parent that would ordinarily have care of the child on the scheduled day of the meeting with the Child Consultant will ensure the child attends.
  • To occur the day prior to Child Inclusive Mediation.
  • The priority of the Child Consultant is to make a comfortable and safe space for the child to explore their experience of the parental separation.

Step 2 Child Inclusive Mediation

  • Allow half a day (4 hours).
  • Both parents attend with Qualified Mediator and Child Consultant.
  • Child Consultant provides feedback from the separate meeting with the Child in the form of a highly skilled conversation with the parents about the child’s responses and needs, the Child Consultant functioning as both an ally for the child and a support for the parents’ capacity to reflect sensitively in relation to the needs of their child.
  • Both the Mediator and Child Consultant assist the parents to develop a clear view of the child’s needs in light of the separation and conflict.
  • The child consultant participates in the mediation to support thought and decision making about the children.

Child meeting with Child Consultant

In the meeting with the child we seek to:

  • Consult with the child in a supportive, developmentally appropriate manner about their experiences of the family separation and dispute,
  • Ensure that the style of consultation avoids any burden of decision-making for the child,
  • Validate the child’s experience and provide basic information that may assist their present and future ability to cope,
  • Develop a strategic therapeutic loop back to the child’s parents by considering with them the essence of their child’s experience in a manner that supports them to hear and reflect upon their child’s needs, and
  • Ensure that the ongoing Child Inclusive Mediation process and the agreements or decisions reached reflect at their core the psycho-developmental needs of the child.

It is normal for parents to worry about their children finding the experience of meeting with the Child Consultant stressful and anxiety provoking, however every step is taken to ensure children feel comfortable, safe and supported to share their experiences. Because of this, whilst the Child  Consultant will make every effort to engage your child, it cannot be guaranteed that your child’s views will be able to be elicited for use in the mediation session.

An Evidence Based Program that achieves superior outcomes

McIntosh and Long (2006) have found evidence that improvement in mutual regard of the parties for each other as parents and an increased emotional availability of parents to their children often resulted from the child inclusive intervention, with important flow-on effects for the emotional wellbeing of their children up to one year after intervention.

The study “Children Beyond Dispute” funded by the Commonwealth Government Attorney-General’s Department, compared outcomes between two groups of separated parents, who attended Mediation over parenting disputes.

The parents engaged either in a Child Focused intervention, or in a Child Inclusive Mediation at one of three Relationships Australia Services (Canberra, Melbourne and Adelaide).

Benefits of Mediation for Parenting Arrangements

Outcomes common to both groups included:

  • Significant and enduring reduction in levels of conflict in the year following Mediation,
  • The majority of parents reporting improved management or resolution of the initial disputes that brought them to Mediation,
  • Children perceived less frequent and less intense conflict between their parents and better resolution of it, and
  • Significant lowering of their own distress in relation to parental discord.

Additional Benefits of Child Inclusive Mediation

The Child Inclusive Mediation also resulted in a number of effects not evident in the other group. According to the study’s one year post intervention analysis, there were significantly better outcomes for the Child Inclusive Mediation group in the following areas:

  • Lower acrimony in fathers in relation to their former spouses,
  • Greater improvement in the parental alliance for fathers,
  • Children’s experience of improved emotional availability of their fathers and greater sense of closeness to them,
  • Greater contentment by children with care and contact arrangements and less inclination to want to change them,
  • Greater satisfaction of fathers with care and contact arrangements for their children, despite initially lower levels of overnight contact than the alternate group,
  • Greater stability of care and contact patterns over the year, and
  • Preservation or improvement of the mother-child relationship, from the perspectives of both mother and child.

Furthermore, agreements reached in the Child Inclusive Mediation were found to be significantly more durable and workable over a year as rated by both mothers and fathers.