The place of the child in mediation

Paramount or vulnerable third party?


  • Mavis Maclean University of Oxford



Children's Act, mediation


This article reviews the place of the law in child mediation, suggesting that recent interest in hearing the voice of the child needs to be accompanied by consideration of the best interests of the child as required under the welfare paramountcy presumption of the Children Act (1989) when a consent order is a possible outcome.

Author Biography

Mavis Maclean, University of Oxford

Mavis Maclean CBE is a senior research fellow, St Hilda’s College, University of Oxford, and founding director of the Oxford Centre for Family Law and Policy in the Department of Social Policy and Intervention. Her most recent books include Lawyers and Mediators: The Brave New World of Services for Separating Families (with John Eekelaar; Hart, 2016), Delivering Family Justice in the 21st Century (Hart, 2015) and Family Justice: The Work of Family Judges in Uncertain Times (Hart, 2013). She has acted as academic adviser to the Ministry of Justice for many years, and was recently elected an honorary bencher of Middle Temple.


Batagol, B. and Browne, T. (2011) Bargaining in the Shadow of the Law: The Case of Family Mediation. Annandale, Australia: Themis Press.

Child Dispute Resolution Advisory Group (2015) Final Report of the Voice of the Child Dispute Resolution Advisory Group. March. Retrieved on 16 April 2016 from

Family Justice Review Panel (2011) Family Justice Review: Final Report. November. London: Ministry of Justice, Department for Education and Welsh Government.

Family Mediation Council (2014) FMC Manual of Professional Standards and Self-Regulatory Framework. September. Retrieved on 16 April 2016 from

Genn, H. (1999) Paths to Justice: What People Do and Think About Going to Law. Oxford: Hart Publishing.

Morris, P. (2015) Screening for domestic violence in family mediation: an investigation into how mediators manage disclosure of domestic abuse and associated emotions. Doctoral thesis, Brunel University.

Resolution (2014) Resolution Guides to Good Practice. Orpington: Resolution. Retrieved on 16 April 2016 from

Thoday, C., Trinder, L., Connolly, J. and Kellett, J. (2004) Families in contact disputes: a profile. Family Law 34(12): 877–81.



How to Cite

Maclean, M. (2016). The place of the child in mediation: Paramount or vulnerable third party?. Mediation Theory and Practice, 1(1), 111–118.



Rapid Response