Listening to Children’s Voices in Separation and Divorce Processes: A Semi-Structured Interview Model

Research has indicated the importance to children and adolescents of having their voices and views heard in all separation, divorce, and post-divorce processes. Understanding children’s views provides the practitioner with a more integrated view of the child in the family and can lead to more informed recommendations, decisions, and work with parents. This workshop summarizes research and the rationale for listening to children in different forums where decisions about children’s lives are made. A structured child-focused interview model for obtaining children’s views is described for use in mediation, collaborative family law, custody evaluations, guardian ad litem, and parenting coordination processes, as well as court-ordered therapy, with opportunities for discussion and group exercises. Content includes description of six phases of the interview model, developmental issues in the use of language and questions, techniques for interviewing children, guidance for how to provide feedback to parents when appropriate, and examples of child interviews.

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