Things change when parents separate and it can be a confusing time for everyone – especially kids. Now that you have two homes, your Mum and Dad need to decide about things like where you live, when you will spend time with each of them, what you will do in the holidays and so on.
When parents can't agree, they go to a family consultant at the Court to help them work things out.
This is what your parents have done. Family consultants also talk to kids.
What is a Family Consultant?
Family consultants help kids and Mums and Dads solve problems. Lots of families see family consultants.
A family consultant will:
- answer your questions
- listen to your views and ideas, and
- tell the judge what you want.
How much you say to the family consultant is up to you, but it's okay to say what you think.
Lots of children worry that they will have to choose between their parents or have to talk about upsetting things.
You don't have to say anything you don't want to – and you won't have to choose between your Mum and Dad.
You can tell the family consultant if you are worried that what you say will upset your Mum or Dad. You and the family consultant will then work out the best way to tell your parents what you want them to know.
Who gets to know what I say?
After speaking to you, the family consultant will talk with your Mum and Dad about your feelings and ideas. They will then work with your Mum and Dad to try and decide what should happen next. If they can't agree, a judge will decide what will be best for your family.
Before the judge can decide, he or she will want the family consultant to write a report about your family. This is called a Family Report. The report will include information from your talk with the family consultant, including how you are thinking and feeling. You can ask the family consultant what is going to be in the report. Your Mum and Dad will also read the report. If you are worried what they will think when they read the report, tell the family consultant.
- You will not have to choose between your Mum and Dad.
- If you are worried that what you will say might upset your Mum and Dad, tell the family consultant first. You and the family consultant can then work out a way to tell your parents what you want them to know.
- Kids don't go into the courtroom so it's the family consultant's job to tell the judge what is important to you.
- When parents separate, it is a confusing time for everyone. Remember you are not alone.
What does a judge do?
Parents talk to the judge in a courtroom. The courtroom is not a place for kids, so it's the family consultant's job to tell the judge what is important to you. The judge reads the Family Report carefully. The judge also has many other things to think about before deciding what is best for you and your family.
It can be a hard time for you and your family while you wait to find out what the judge decides.
What happens next?
After the judge decides, there might be some changes in your family – or things may stay the same.
If you want to talk to someone else, the Kids Help Line can help.
Call 1800 55 1800
Or go to www.kidshelp.com.au
Kids Help Line
is Australia's only free, confidential and anonymous, 24 hour telephone and online counselling service specifically for people aged between 5 and 25.