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 is a part of Family Dispute Resolution which supports parents to understand the impact of separation on their child. A child consultant works with the child and provides information and support to parents to assist their child to cope with the family separation.
Child Consultants are experienced Professionals who specialise in working with children and young people. They have extensive knowledge of the developmental and emotional needs of children and young people during separation.
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. However, offering the Service is always at the discretion of the Practitioners involved in the particular matter. 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.
Separated families with children undergoing Family Dispute Resolution, including those in de facto or same sex relationships. Children must be six years and over 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.
- 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 is supported to talk to a counsellor in the future if they need to.