Consulting Children is a service that helps young people (aged 8 to 17) to influence the decisions that are made after their parents separate. Consulting Children is available where parents are engaged in mediation, or it can be directly requested by courts.
Children can often find it difficult to talk about what they want when families are separating. They can be afraid of split loyalties or of causing further conflict; often they tell parents what they think parents want to hear, or their voice is lost in the process. Consulting Children gives young people the space to have a voice, and to have that voice heard.
Our Consulting Children workers work with young people, helping them to open up and share their views on the changes that are taking place in their family and any concerns they might have for the future. The worker will then give the child time to consider what they want to say to their parents or to the court, giving them choices about what they want to feedback and how they want their views to be shared.
Feedback will then either be shared with the parents as part of the mediation process, or an independent report will be issued directly to the court. It is not Avenue’s role to verify any of the information given in Consulting Children sessions, or to give our opinion on what should happen.
Before meeting with the child, the Mediator or Consulting Children worker will meet with both parents separately, so that the worker can explain the process and ensure that both parents are prepared for hearing the views of their child. Young people then typically attend three individual sessions. The worker will use a range of techniques to help the young person to explore their thoughts, feelings and views and then to decide what they want to feedback. Sometimes additional sessions may be required if the worker or the young person request them (eg for clarification purposes). Finally, feedback will either be verbally shared with the parents as part of the mediation process, or an independent report will be issued directly to the court.
Sessions are 50 minutes long. Sessions may be delivered by zoom or face-to-face, though typically our workers will ask for the first meeting (at least) with the child to be face-to-face.
Avenue might, on occasion, choose not to proceed with the Consulting Children service beyond the initial parent sessions. This would be in cases where we don’t feel that proceeding would be in the best interests of the child. In such cases, our reasons will be explained to you and a refund will be issued for pre-paid sessions not offered.
Consulting Children is only available as a package as it is important for the young person that all parts of the process are honoured. Where the service is part of the Mediation process, the package costs £350. Where it is court-ordered and requires a report, Consulting Children costs £650. You may be able to get Legal Aid to help you to pay for this, and you should speak to your solicitor in the first instance.
Avenue is a charity and we work hard to keep our fees as low as we can so that anyone who needs our support can access our services. Please get in touch if you are not able to access Legal Aid, live in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire or Moray, and are on benefits or a low income. We may be able to offer a concessionary rate.
If you would like more information, or would like to refer yourself or someone you know to Consulting Children, please call our Service Administration team on 01224 587571, or email us
Our online referral form can be completed here