What is the difference between Child-focused FDR and Child-inclusive FDR?

by | Nov 17, 2023 | Children’s Issues, Parenting and Child Care, Parenting co-ordination

By Stephanie Azzi

What is FDR?

Family Dispute Resolution (“FDR”) is a type of mediation for helping separating families to come to their own agreements. During FDR, families, with the help of a neutral and accredited FDR practitioner, will discuss the issues in dispute and consider different options, while being encouraged to focus on the needs of their children.

The main objective of FDR is to assist participants to make a parenting plan setting out the agreed future parenting arrangements.

What is Child-focused FDR?

Child-focused FDR seeks to encourage the parties to look beyond their disputes and consider how the agreements benefit the children. Often the FDR practitioner will educate the parents to better understand how the dispute and separation negatively impacts their children, both in the long and short term. Child focused as a process was described as having the FDR practitioner be “non-neutral with respect to advocating for the interests of the children”. Child-focused FDR could be described as “finding the child’s voice” during parental negotiations in the absence of the child and is carried out by enlisting the cooperation of the parents and carers in an effort to re-establish and maintain a secure emotional base for the child. Child focused mediation includes the following goals:

  • Creation of an environment that supports disputing parents in actively considering the unique needs of each of their children;
  • Facilitation of a parenting agreement that preserves significant relationships and supports children’s psychological adjustment to the separation, including recovery from parental acrimony and protection from further conflict;
  • Support for parents to leave the dispute resolution forum on higher rather than diminished ground with respect to their post-separation parenting; and
  • Ensuring that the ongoing mediation/litigation process and the agreements or decisions reached reflect the basic psycho-developmental needs of each child, to the extent that they can be known without the involvement of the children.

What is Child-inclusive FDR?

Child-inclusive FDR is “finding the child’s voice in the presence of the child”, through a process of developmental consultation and therapeutic conversation. The primary goal is to re-establish and maintain a secure emotional base for the child after family separation, exactly like Child-focused FDR.

Child-inclusive FDR shares the same intent and approach as the Child-focused FDR; however, it additionally involves a direct assessment of children’s experiences of the separation and their relationship with each parent. It requires the involvement of two highly skilled professionals: the FDR practitioner, who works with the parents in the resolution of the dispute; and, a specially trained child consultant, who meets with and assesses the child and provides the FDR practitioner and parents with feedback.

Child-inclusive FDR also includes:

  • Consultation with children in a supportive, developmentally appropriate manner about their experiences of the family separation and dispute;
  • Ensuring that the style of consultation avoids and removes any burden of decision-making from the children;
  • Understanding and formulating children’s core experience within a developmental framework;
  • Validating children’s experiences and providing basic information that may assist their present and future coping;
  • Formation of a strategic therapeutic loop back to the children’s parents by considering with them the essence of their children’s experience in a manner that supports them to hear and reflect upon their children’s needs; and
  • Ensuring that the ongoing mediation/litigation process and the agreements or decisions reached reflect at their core the psycho-developmental needs of each child.

If you want more information about child-focused mediation and/or child inclusive mediation, then contact RAMP today!