Putting Children First: Empowering Their Voices in Family Law Mediation

Bayside Mediation offers Family Disputes Services

Discover the Power of Child Inclusive Practice (CIP) and Court Child Experts (CCE) at Bayside Mediation

Family Group Conferencing (FGC) is a unique and effective approach to resolving family issues and concerns. Unlike traditional approaches, FGC is a family-led
The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia director of Court Children’s Services for Victoria and Tasmania recently spoke with Lawyers Weekly regarding “the importance of Court Child Experts (CCE) in dispute resolution conferences and the unambiguous focus they bring on the child and needs of children.

To read the article and find out more information on the role CCEs, visit: https://lnkd.in/eGJTU5eB

At Bayside Mediation, we offer the option of a similar practice, widely known as Child Inclusive Practice (CIP). This process brings the voice of the child into FDR in private mediation.

Child Inclusive Practise (CIP) and Court Child Experts (CCE) are essential components of family law conflict settlement conferences. The CIP allows children from the age of four a voice in the mediation process by meeting with a trained Child Mediator, whilst CCEs support the conflict resolution process by ensuring that the child’s developmental and other difficulties are focused on.

🔹 What is a Child Inclusive Practice?
Child Inclusive Practice involves children from four years of age and up to be included in the mediation process by meeting with a qualified Child Mediator. The Child Mediator meets with your child to gain an understanding of how the separation affects them through age and stage-appropriate play and discussion. The Child Mediator will also meet with the parents where, with your child’s permission, their views and feelings will be conveyed and considered.

🔹 What is the process for a Child Inclusive Practice?


You will have a private intake session with a mediator who will explain the mediation process, discuss your parenting issues, and options for support for your children. Both parents must give their consent for the Child Inclusive process to be initiated.


Once you and your ex-partner have each had a private intake session, your mediator will give you the contact details of our Child Mediator, and you will then be required to make the arrangement for your child/children to meet with our Child Mediator. (Usually, the parent with the primary care position will initiate the appointment with the Child Mediator)


Child Mediation Session:
Before you take your children to meet with the Child Mediator, she will contact both parents to discuss the process and her role. When you bring your child/children to their appointment, each child will spend approximately one hour with our Child Mediator in her counselling room.


One-hour child feedback session:
After the session your children have with our Child Mediator, your mediator will schedule a time for both parents to meet with them and our Child Mediator. During this session, our Child Mediator will provide feedback as to how your children are coping with the separation and provide you with any key messages your children would like you to know. You can also ask questions and seek clarification of any point raised. We will often follow this session with your first Parenting Plan session.


How can a Child Inclusive practice assist in the Mediation process?

🔸 Gives your child/children a voice where they are able to safely express their thoughts and feelings on how the separation affects them.
🔸 Assists your child/children with their post-separation journey.
🔸 Allows your child/children to inform the decision-making process without placing the burden of decision-making on them.
🔸 Helps parents to understand and consider their child’s/children’s position and supports the parents to be the best that they can be.
🔸 Ensures that the Mediation process is focused on the best interests of the child/children.

Bayside Mediation has been a promoter of this practice for over 10 years.

The role of the Court Child Experts (CCE)
“There’s a couple of ways that CCE assists the dispute resolution process,” Ms Swetenham said.
“One is they’re in the room, they’re in the conference, and they are really very active participants.
“The other is there might have been a different CCE who had written the forensic report for their interim assessment. This report will help ensure that the child’s developmental issues, or other issues for the children, are focused on by everybody else in the dispute resolution session.”
“Perhaps a parent’s capacity to understand and reflect on the impact of a decision on their children might be enhanced by having somebody else there,” she said.
The CCE may observe the parties to see how they’re managing the questions, and also, they might be looking at the reflective capacity of a parent, outlined Ms Swetenham.
“It might be the case that a parent is finding it difficult to understand why something might be heading in a particular direction.
“Somebody with a social science lens can assist a parent to understand the dispute from the perspective of the impact on the child, as opposed to their sense of what the parent wants,” explained Ms Swetenham.


How family lawyers utilise CCEs
In the dispute resolution conference, a family lawyer might be working with a client and thinking their client may have unrealistic expectations, or a misplaced view about what might be best, Ms Swetenham outlined.
“A parent might have a strong desire to have a high level of care for a child when the child might be particularly young, or there might be a long distance for travel,” she explained.
In such a case, the family lawyer might ask the CCE to explain something from a social science perspective to their client, she said.


When operating in a dispute resolution setting, the role of the CCE is confidential, and so the information they obtain in that setting cannot be used in court, Ms Swetenham outlined.
“It is not an opportunity to put any additional information to a CCE with the hope of it being used in any other way,” she said.


“The decision about whether or not a CCE will be involved in a dispute resolution conference is made by the registrar team and is based on need,” explained Ms Swetenham.
“One of the challenges is that CCEs are a finite resource.”
Children’s voices should be heard during the Family Law Mediation process, according to Bayside Mediation. Children have a rare chance to be heard and understood at the trying period of separation because to our Child Inclusive Practise (CIP). By enlisting a skilled Child Mediator, we can organise dialogues with kids at the right age and give parents insightful feedback, enabling them to make decisions that put their kids’ welfare first. With more than ten years of expertise advancing this practise, we are dedicated to making sure that the mediation procedure keeps its attention on the child’s best interests. Count on Bayside Mediation to lead you through a sympathetic and child-centered approach to resolving family conflicts.


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