Giving children a say
Children are always at the centre of the FDR process.
FDR is a child-focused process. If you believe that it is important for your children to have a say in the decisions that are being made by you and their other parent or caregiver, let your FDR mediator know. There are a range of different ways that their views can be incorporated, including appointing a Voice of Child Specialist. All FDR mediators are highly trained in family mediation and will be able to talk with you about any concerns you might have.
Range of options
As part of your individual meeting with the mediator, they will talk with you about how your children’s voices can be incorporated into the mediation along a spectrum - from the children having no involvement through to the children attending the mediation (which is rarely appropriate).
In between there are several options such as parents speaking for the children and having a child-focussed mediation, a trusted family member sharing their thoughts, a trusted friend meeting with the children and bringing their voice to the mediation, to a voice of child specialist. We strongly believe in the value of this process for families, and most importantly for children. At FairWay we are dedicated to supporting the whole family through their journey, not just the parents.
Role of the voice of child specialist
When parties attend FDR and there are no Court proceedings, they may choose to engage a voice of child specialist (“VOCS”).
The role of the VOCS is to share the views and thoughts of the children but not to advocate for them or express their professional opinion on the child’s views or interests.
Who are FairWay’s Voice of Child Specialist’s?
FairWay has a list of approved voice of child specialists on its website. FairWay has approved these specialists on the basis that they have the required skills and experience to meet with a child, hear their voices and share what the child wants their parent or guardian to hear when considering care arrangements or guardianship decisions which affect them.
You can view profiles of our VOCS here.
Is there a cost?
The voice of child specialist time is part of the 12 hours of FDR services available to each family dispute in a 12-month period.
If you would like to find out more, you can contact our FDR team on 0800 77 44 20.