Children in Family Mediation

A Rights Approach or the Right Approach?


  • Marian Roberts



This article explores the impact of three interlinked developments on both theoretical understanding of the specific role of children in family mediation and on its professional practice implications. First, the adoption of an imported terminology deviates from the clarity and precision of existing policy in respect of the nature and purpose of professional intervention in relation to children in mediation; second, current high standards of practice risk being compromised by an overemphasis of a rights approach to determining a child’s direct participation in mediation; and third, how a failure to sufficiently recognize the impact on families of multiple harsh pressures, including poverty and deprivation, at a time of conflict and stress, risks both overstating the scope of mediation for meeting a child’s needs as well as underplaying the complexities involved in relation to the direct participation of children in mediation. The article explores the tensions arising from these developments and the challenges, theoretical and professional, involved in protecting the ethical and professional principles of mediation while ensuring that the voice of the child can be heard in the process.

Keywords: ADR; mediation; family mediation; children in mediation; children’s rights.


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Special Section: Children's Rights: Contemporary Issues in Law and Society (Part 1)