An advisory group set up by Justice Minister Simon Hughes to investigate the best ways for children to be involved in out-of-court dispute resolution processes has now published its final report.
The Voice of the Child Advisory Group has made a number of recommendations in its report, including the key recommendation that children be involved in family mediation sessions.
The report has been welcomed by a number of family law organisations, including National Family Mediation (NFM).
“We hope the report brings us all closer to realising NFM’s long-standing vision that offering children the opportunity to become involved in family mediation, helping chart their own futures, could become the ‘norm’,” commented Jane Robey, CEO of NFM.
“Our experience shows that involving children in mediation can help shift parents’ attention away from the bitterness they feel towards each other, to focus on the child’s future instead,” she added.
Family justice organisation Resolution also welcomed the report's recommendations:
“We’re encouraged by the Government’s firm support for the principle of child inclusive practice and the presumption that children and young people should have the opportunity to have their voices heard during their parents’ separation, including mediation,” said Karin Walker, spokesperson for Resolution. “Whilst children should not be actively involved in the issues surrounding the separation of their parents, it is important that they have the opportunity to express their feelings about the impact of decisions on their lives.”
“This is a huge step towards child inclusive dispute resolution, enabling and empowering parents to focus their minds on outcomes which take account the best interests of their children,” she added. “We urge Government to consider the report’s request for funding for child inclusive mediation as an ongoing process during a divorce, rather than a one off event for the child or young person. Resolution considers inclusion of children’s rights and wishes throughout the separation process to play a crucial role in helping separating families move on with their lives.”
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