When a relationship breaks down, the most important aspect for parents is often how they are going to resolve arrangements for their children, and it is also the case that if at all possible, they want to try and minimise the impact on the children of what will be a significant change in their day to day lives and the routines that they have previously been used to.
A lot of separating couples have heard of mediation, and may consider it as an option to explore in resolving things that need to be dealt with in terms of discussing arrangements and practicalities, however, it is not always something that is known about or considered in terms of it being a process that their children can be directly involved with as well as them.
Child Inclusive Mediation is dealt with by a family mediator who is specially trained to work with children, and have the specific skills needed to carry out this specialist work. Normally, this type of mediation is deemed to be most appropriate for children aged 10 and over, but they can be younger if a specialist mediator assesses a particular situation to be appropriate for this.
Both parents will need to be in agreement that the mediation take place. The specialist mediator will then normally write to the children and invite them to a meeting. It is entirely up to the children if they want to meet with the mediator or not. The mediator can be the same one that the parents are using, or a different one.
If there are siblings involved, the mediator will often speak with them together to begin with, and then give them the opportunity to have separate meetings going forward. The parents are not involved in these meetings.
The process can be very beneficial from the perspective of the children, as it allows them to express their views, feelings, and concerns in relation to the situation they are in with regard to their parents’ separation in a way that they may not feel able to otherwise do. They will be able to say how things could be dealt with to make things easier for them if they want to, and explain how they feel about things to the mediator. It is however, always made clear, that they are not responsible for decision making, and that is for their parents to deal with.
Child Inclusive Mediation is a confidential discussion process and that can be very reassuring from the children’s point of view. Nothing discussed can be fed back to, or discussed with their parents, without the children’s express permission. It can be that sometimes children want the mediator to feed back some information to parents as to what they would like them to think about when making decisions about arrangements, but this is strictly on the basis that the children wish the mediator to do this.
The mediator can then arrange to meet with the parents to feed back to them anything the children wish them to be aware of, which can hopefully help inform the decision making they are dealing with overall, to try and ensure things are dealt with as amicably and smoothly as they can be.
Whilst Child Inclusive Mediation is not appropriate for every case, it is a useful tool for separating parents to consider, as to most importantly, the benefit the children may get from the process from their own perspective, and also how it may help parents to put the best arrangements in place going forward.
If you are going through divorce or separation with children involved or if you would like advice on Child Inclusive Mediation, contact us to speak with one of our specialist family law solicitors today.
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Author: Sarah Wyburn