Family and Child Mediation (FCM)
The FCM model is designed to:
- Comply with the Children’s Act
- Comply with Draft Regulation for Parenting Plans
- Reach sustainable agreements
- Support parents and children
- Facilitate child participation in an appropriate manner
- Use the Duchen-Grid as web-based support tool.
Meet the legal requirements
Legislation places new demands on mediators. Mediators are compelled to facilitate child participation during the mediation process. In certain cases, the mediator has to sign off agreements in the best interest of the child. Parents must have the peace of mind that they participate in a process that meets these legal requirements.
Offer a cost effective model
A brief structured mediation process for the drafting of a basic or substantial Parenting Plan offers a cost effective solution.
Use web based technology
The Duchen-Grid is a support tool uniquely designed for supporting families with decision-making.
It is difficult for parents to walk into the mediation context and to negotiate on very important aspects without being prepared. The mediator conducts an Individual Preparatory Interview with each parent. The duration of this structured interview is approximately 1 hour. The purpose of the interview is to obtain necessary background information, identification of issues, needs and interests, search for common ground and obtain and list agenda items for inclusion in the consolidated agenda and final Parenting Plan or agreement.
By using knowledge about brain functioning, FCM aims to create a working space where integrated brain functioning can be optimised. Dr Duchen uses knowledge about family re-organisation to structure the mediation process in a manner that will support effective family functioning after mediation. Parents are encouraged to use the Familyzone™ Parenting Plan starter Pack to prepare for mediation sessions. As far is possible, Dr Duchen aims for parents to enter each session knowing what will be discussed and be prepared in order to facilitate meaningful participation by both parents. Both parents are required to sign a mediation agreement setting out the terms of the mediation.
The mediator conducts a structured individual interview with each child canvassing the child’s experience of his/her situation. This is not an assessment. Dr Duchen interviews children from approximately age 4 years. Older children complete the children’s questionnaire of the Duchen-Grid with Dr Duchen in her office. Children do not attend joint sessions with their parents during the mediation process. Once agreement is reached, the mediator communicates the outcome of the mediation to the children. This is done in consultation with the parents.
Best Interest of the Child Standard
All mediation sessions are grounded in the principle that all agreements must meet the Best Interest of the Child Standard. The Duchen-Grid is a support tool that assists in focussing the mediation on this principle.
Joint session objectives
These objectives are determined by the dispute/s that the family has and the goals that parents wish to reach in mediation. Common goals are to develop:
- Communication strategy
- Conflict resolution strategy
- Mechanisms for the exchange of information
- Residency and contact plans
- Mechanism for updating or reviewing the agreement
Once an agreement is reached, it is advisable that both parents take the agreement to their legal representatives for review. Unrepresented parents may opt for other strategies at this point.
Finalising the agreement
Once the review is complete, a final Parenting Plan and necessary forms are signed by the parents. The parents may opt for registration of the Parenting Plan with the Office of the Family Advocate or to make their Parenting Plan a Court Order.