Building bridges in troubled times

Building bridges in troubled times

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

David*, an 11-year-old boy, now has a better relationship with his father after his family participated in Roundtable Dispute Management (RDM) – our family dispute resolution service – following his parents' separation.

David’s father approached RDM because he and David’s mother could not agree on parenting arrangements. David’s father wanted to spend time with him but David’s mother said their son had a poor relationship with his father and was having counselling to manage anxiety and fears that his father would kidnap him.

At RDM, the couple reached an interim agreement which allowed for limited contact time between father and son. David also continued to see his counsellor.

RDM Case Manager Louise Sunnefors arranged for David to share his thoughts and feelings. This was undertaken through our child-inclusive Kids Talk program.

During Kids Talk, a child consultant talks to children at the centre of their parents' dispute and provides feedback to parents on the needs and wishes of their child.

The Kids Talk discussion revealed that David had begun to enjoy spending time with his father and there had been a significant attitudinal shift in both parents' feelings towards each other. David felt more comfortable with non-supervised visits with his father and was willing to spend more time with him in the future. At a second RDM conference, David’s parents signed a parenting plan regarding their son’s care.

Louise believes RDM plays a vital role in the family law arena.

‘Often when parents come to us they don’t have the ability to reach an agreement about the child due to their personal conflict. We aim to provide a safe, child-focused environment in which they can endeavour to work through their differences and come to an agreeable and beneficial outcome for the child,’ Louise said.

‘In David’s case we helped improve the fractured relationship between father and son, enabled the parents to reach agreement regarding parenting arrangements and helped both parents feel positive about their ongoing parental relationship.’

In the 2012–13 financial year we conducted 1217 RDM conferences with 88 per cent of these conferences resulting in either full, interim or partial settlement of issues in dispute. Kids Talk took place in 32 high-need cases.

* Name changed to protect identity

More information

Roundtable Dispute Management

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