Child Participation


​“Voice of the child” is a phrase often used to refer to the mandatory child participation interview as part of the divorce and family mediation processes. As with all legal processes involving children, the best interest of the child should be prioritised. Participation provides children with a forum for asserting their personal and individual power. Following an ethically and theoretically sound process provides the child with the opportunity to express their views and feelings freely.

The participation of the child in matters affecting them is mandatory in South Africa

The child participation assessment is only applicable regarding matters with no disputes towards the primary residence of the child concerned. 


According to the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of Children, a child can express his or her views through participation. This does not give the child a right to a say what could outweigh that of their parents, it does give a child the opportunity to express their opinion when decision that will impact them are discussed.

Section 10 of the Children’s Act (38 of 2005) stipulates that:  “Every child that is of such an age, maturity and stage of development as to be able to participate in any matter concerning that child has the right to participate in an appropriate way and views expressed by the child must be given due consideration”.

Section 31 of the Children’s Act (38 of 2005) provides that co-holders of parental responsibilities and rights need to give due consideration to the child and other holders of parental responsibilities and rights views and wishes before making certain decisions defined in the Act.

Section 6(5) of the Children’s Act (38 of 2005) states that child, having regard to his or her age, maturity and stage of development, and a person who has parental responsibilities and rights in respect of that child, where appropriate, must be informed of any action or decision taken in a matter concerning the child which significantly affects the child.


    • To support the parties in understanding the needs of their child and analise the nature and level of any risks faced by the minor child. 
    • To support the parties to build on strengths and address problems to ensure positive outcomes for the minor child.
    • The feedback received by the parties will be utelised to support the parties to make informed decisions regarding their child.
    • To minimize parental conflict


    • Support children to deal with possible anger/fear and signalling that their feelings matter.
    • Positive impact on parent-child relationship and mental health of the child.
    • Creates an understanding of the process for the child, therefore reduces anxiety and stress experienced by the child.  May also contribute to positive adjustment of the child to postseparation / divorce conditions.
    • Support the parents in their decision-making regarding the exercising of their parental responsibility and rights post separation/ divorce.


The Family Professional conducts the Child participation assessment mindful of Section 9 of the Children’s Act (38 of 2005) which states:  “In all matters concerning the care, protection and well-being of a child the standard that the child’s best interest is of paramount importance, must be applied”.

The assessment at a minimum is concluded over 2 sessions, diarised one week apart.  The duration, time of the assessment and assessment techniques implemented are dependent on the child’s development stage. The assessment techniques implemented aim to stimulate conversation with the child and support the child in providing a narrative or description of important systems in  life his/her live

The phased evaluation process evaluates the minor child’s current functioning, perceptions and emotional experiences holistically on all levels of functioning and within all systems involved in the child’s life.   Systems evaluated includes:

    1. School and peer relationships
    2. Relationships with parents and siblings
    3. Child’s experience of the relationship between parents
    4. Other significant people
    5. Personality functioning and temperament

When concern is raised during the assessment in regard to any risk factors identified, the family professional reserves the right to extend the assessment to a socio-emotional or forensic assessment.

Both parents are requested to participate in a contextual interview prior to the minor child’s assessment sessions.

The child participation process is not confidential and verbal feedback of the findings will be provided to both parties’, their legal representatives and/or mediator at the conclusion of the process.  No report will be issued unless specifically requested.