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‘Taking a longer view of contact’: messages that adults need to hear

Date:4 MAR 2013
Family mediator, trainer and a Vice President of the FMA
Lisa Parkinson
Mediator and Trainer:
There is widespread concern that legislation to promote shared parenting after separation would   result in more separated parents fighting over their rights, instead of focusing attention on working together for their children's benefit. Recently published research (J Fortin et al, Taking a longer view of contact: the perspectives of young adults who experienced parental separationJanuary [2013] Fam Law 104-109) contains important messages for parents and family law professionals.  Accounts of childhood experience show the importance of unbroken relationships with both parents after separation, while recognising that forcing contact on an unwilling child may be of  little benefit, or even damaging. This article considers the role that mediation can play in helping separated parents to work out individually tailored arrangements that support and benefit children. Children who had a poor relationship with the non-residential parent prior to separation may resist contact because they feel this parent shows little interest or concern for them as individuals. In some circumstances and especially at an early stage, mediation can help some parents to restore or build child-parent relationships through taking more careful account of the child's own feelings, interests and ideas.
The full version of this article appears in the March 2013 issue of Family Law.    
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