References

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Recent legislative changes in England and Wales have encouraged parents to agree child-focused arrangements on separation in mediation, aiming to reduce the role of the courts. This has limited children’s ability to exercise their article 12 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) rights to information, consultation and representation when parents separate. Yet, children’s voices may be heard directly through child-inclusive mediation (CIM) but it is not widespread and there are barriers to its uptake.

Until now, there has been little evidence on what these reforms mean for children’s experiences of parental separation and whether or not they view CIM as a positive process. Considered from a children’s rights perspective, this book provides a critical socio-legal account of CIM practice. It draws on in-depth interviews with children, parents, mediators and other relationship professionals to consider the experiences, risks and benefits of CIM. It investigates obstacles to greater uptake of CIM and its potential role in improving children’s wellbeing and agency as well as a stepping stone towards a family justice system which embeds a children’s rights framework in line with their UNCRC rights. It also considers what conceptual, legal and practical changes leading to wider reform may be achieved in the short, medium and long term to underpin a shift towards taking children’s rights seriously in non-court dispute resolution.

Exploring the culture and practice changes necessary for a more routine application of CIM, the book demonstrates how reconceptualizing CIM through a children’s rights framework could help to address barriers and improve outcomes for children.

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