Consulting Children is a service that helps young people (aged 10 to 17) to communicate their needs after their parents separate. 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 parents, solicitors or the court, giving them choices about what they want to feedback and how they want their views to be shared.
Feedback can then be shared in a number of ways, including directly to the parents, through an independent report commissioned by the parents’ solicitors, or in an independent report requested directly by 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 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 need them (eg for clarification purposes). Finally, feedback is issued as a report, or given verbally to parents in a further session.
Sessions are 50 minutes long. Parent sessions may be delivered by zoom or face-to-face; sessions with the young person are typically face-to-face.
The Consulting Children package 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.
Hi, I'm Megan and I want to tell you what happened when my parents divorced. I'm 12 now and they separated when I was 10. It was a big shock when they told me about splitting up and I was really upset. They said they were sad too, they would still love me and I would take turns to live with each of them and it would be okay.
It was okay for a while, but they started arguing about money and buying new flats. I didn't know what to do so I just pretended I was fine, but I worried all the time that we were going to be poor and homeless.
They were saying bad things about each other. It made me feel sad and scared and I started getting stomach aches. It got worse when Dad started to go out with Jenny and Mum found out and got very angry. They stopped speaking about anything and made me pass notes to each other.
It got so hard that I worried all the time and couldn’t sleep. One day at school I fell asleep in class, and when the teacher asked me what was wrong, I burst into tears. The Head Teacher called my Mum and talked to her about parents splitting up and how hard it is for kids. She sent my Mum and Dad a letter telling them to go to something called mediation.
They came home from their meeting and told me I could go there too. I could talk to someone who would help me tell Mum and Dad how I was really feeling and what they could do to make it easier for me. The lady I talked to was really nice and knew a lot about kids and their families. She really listened to what I was saying, and when I was ready, helped me write what I wanted my parents to know.
They all had a meeting and talked about how they could change some things. Mum cried when she got home and told me how well I’d done at being so honest. My parents talk to each other more now, I don't have to carry messages and they both try not to say bad things about each other. Mum still doesn't really like Jenny, but she doesn't mind if I do.