It’s important that children have a sense of being heard and understood when their parents are going through separation and divorce. With the support of a Child Consultant, children can share their views in a safe, impartial manner.

The child’s voice can often speak loudest in the midst of separation, but it can also be lost in the stress and sadness of family change.

Empowering children to feel heard is the focus of Centacare’s Child Inclusive Family Dispute Resolution Service.

“Children are often very clear about what they want and don’t want, but they may not have been asked for their opinion,’’ said Ceri Bruce, Senior Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner at Centacare.

“Parents may be well-meaning making the bulk of decisions for their children, but it’s important that young people too have an opportunity to articulate how they feel about the changes in their family.’’

Child Consultants provide a safe space for children to share their thoughts. This, in turn, supports parents to make decisions in their child’s best interests.

Who is Child Consultancy for?

Separated families undergoing Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) at Centacare with children aged five and over.  If it is not appropriate for your family, an FDR Practitioner will explain these to you.

What is a child consultant?

Child consultants are highly skilled and experienced in working with children and young people. They have a thorough understanding of children’s emotional and developmental needs and how best to support them during separation.

How does it work?

Parents may be referred to a Child Consultant during FDR, or may request their support if they are concerned about how their child is coping with and adjusting to change.  Both parents attend an information session with the Child Consultant and FDR Practitioner and consent for their child to be seen.

The Child Consultant meets with the child individually, or with their siblings, as required. It is important to note that children will not be asked to make decisions or choose which parent they prefer to spend time with.

All communication is confidential. However, ensuring the rights of children and young people to safety will take priority over matters of privacy.

Parents attend a feedback session with the FDR Practitioner and Child Consultant, together or separately, and are provided with information about how they can best support their child.

How do children benefit?

Children have a sense of being heard and understood. They may also experience a sense of relief at being able to share their thoughts and worries with an impartial person. This can help them to process more of their experience, and to develop new coping skills.

How do parents benefit?

Parents receive impartial feedback about how their children are coping with the change, and how to best support them.

Parents can feel confident they are making decisions in the best interests of their child. The feedback provided to parents can assist them to communicate more effectively and support their child’s emotional and practical needs.

Child Inclusive Family Dispute Resolution is available in Adelaide, Elizabeth, Mount Barker, Murray Bridge, and Mount Gambier. For more information, phone 8215 6700.