Child-friendly divorce judged a success

Sydney Morning Herald April 26, 2007
CHILDREN whose parents divorced under a revolutionary system being trialled in the Family Court emerged happier than children whose cases were processed in the traditional way, a Melbourne researcher says. Jennifer McIntosh, associate professor of child psychology at La Trobe University and director of the Divorce Mediation Clinic, also found that parents who had gone through the new system argued less over sharing the children. “There was far more acceptance of the importance of both parents in the child’s life and far more respectful communication going on between the parents.”Professor McIntosh studied 38 divorces under the adversarial system, in which parties speak through their lawyers, and compared them with 50 families in a program piloted in Sydney using a less adversarial process in which parents talk directly and freely to the judge. The emphasis was the child’s future rather than the history of the parents’ relationship. The new process has been adopted for all child cases filed after July 1 last year and can be used in property cases.