What is it?

After separating, people resolve their problems with varying degrees of success. One of the most stressful aspects of separation is working out arrangements for children.

Some separated parents are able to discuss the issues involved and work out their own arrangements. If you are such a parent, congratulations and well done.

Others have trouble reaching agreements and rely on assistance from mediators. If that does not work, they go to Court and ultimately rely upon a Judge to make a decision, after they have been through the “life changing” experience of litigation and having their lives examined in minute detail before a decision is made. Often this is such a stressful experience, even with the help of very good lawyers, people can take years to recover from the stress and grief involved, regardless of whether the decision favours them or not.

Frequently, any chance of having a half-way decent co-parenting relationship following lengthy litigation (which sometimes takes years) is destroyed because of the adversarial nature of the litigation process. The Court does the best job it can but there would be few Judges or lawyers who would argue that going to Court should not be a last resort.

As a psychologist and report writer with many years of experience, Peter knows that litigation is extremely stressful for children, no matter how hard parents try to protect them from it.

Alternatives to the Court process include mediation, collaborative law, and child inclusive (or child-centred) mediation.

Peter Jordan is an accredited Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner who is trained and offers services in both collaborative law and child inclusive mediation.

Collaborative law is a way of resolving issues with the help of lawyers and specialists, who work collaboratively with parties to achieve a mutually agreeable resolution, while contracting with clients that they will not go to Court. It does not involve working directly with children.

Child Inclusive or Child-Centred Mediation?

Peter prefers to refer to this as child-centred rather than child inclusive mediation because the children are not actually “included” in the mediation. However, it is a way of obtaining meaningful information designed to assist parents to make decisions that are in their children’s best interests.

It is a complex area that requires an experienced and trained professional who meets with the children, sometimes more than once. It is not just a matter of asking children what they want. Any professional working extensively in this area will tell you that children will say different things to different people about what they want. Their motives for doing so are varied.

As a child-centred mediator, Peter interviews or works with a child in an attempt to truly understand them from a range of perspectives, with particular regard to their age and development in social, emotional, cognitive and physical domains.

Peter then works with parents in a mediation context to help them understand how a child is travelling and what their needs are, according to their assessed development. This assists parents not just to make decisions, but to make informed decisions about their children.

The process is suitable for most children over the age of five.

Peter has written countless Family Reports and provided expert testimony in many instances. He will be able to tell you honestly what expert opinion might be formed by a report writer if you were to go to Court. In the mediation context, this happens with absolute confidentiality. Nothing can be reported to the Court and any notes taken from interviews or working with the children are destroyed afterwards.

Peter has a sincere belief that children’s best interests are usually served by staying well away from Court rooms unless it is absolutely necessary. He also believes that if parents really want to make informed decisions about children following separation, and if they do not agree about what is best, then child-centred mediation is the way to go before considering the other options.

Costs for the process are negotiated, and depend entirely on the number of hours involved. Costs are much much cheaper than going to Court.