Mediation for contact disputes: Information for children and young people
What is mediation for contact disputes?
Sometimes parents have difficulties caring for their children and this can happen for many reasons. However, parents and family often wish to keep seeing their children even if they can’t care for them every day.
Contact between you and your parents or family needs to work for you. From time to time, parents or carers may disagree with how this contact works and how often they get to see you.
Mediation is a meeting which brings these different people together to agree on how contact between you and your parents or family will happen.
It can be a really helpful way to keep the focus on your needs and have the right people talking about how contact can work for you.
How does mediation for contact disputes work?
Legal Aid NSW organises the mediation meeting. Legal Aid’s job is to make sure everyone who needs to be there can come to the meeting.
You or your carer will be contacted by your caseworker to tell you about the meeting. You may also be contacted by the Legal Aid mediator. This is the person who will run the meeting.
It is important that you have a say about decisions affecting you. A Children’s Lawyer will be chosen to help you get ready for the meeting. They will talk to you about how you feel and what contact you would like to have with your parents or family. The Children’s Lawyer will also talk to you about how you could share your thoughts and ideas.
When the meeting takes place, the people involved – your family, your caseworker and anyone else who needs to be there – will talk about the issues and try to agree on how contact between you and your parents or family will work in the future.
The mediator will make sure everyone is able to speak and be heard. If you do not go to the meeting, your Children’s Lawyer will be able to tell you how contact will work for you in the future.
Who can attend the mediation?
Your caseworker and your Children’s Lawyer will go to the mediation meeting. You can talk to your caseworker and your Children’s Lawyer about whether you go to the meeting. Other people who might also go to the meeting are your parents or family members, your carer or guardian or other people who might be affected by decisions made at the meeting. The Legal Aid mediator has the final say about who can attend the meeting.
What happens after the mediation?
Your Children’s Lawyer and your caseworker will talk to you about what was decided at the meeting, and what it means for how contact will work for you in the future. They will be able to answer any questions you may have.