Resolving family disputes with Child Inclusive Mediation
Divorce represents a significant and often traumatic shift in a child’s world and from the child’s perspective, a loss of their family unit. Many children have a hard time grasping how their lives will change, but research suggests that it may be beneficial for children to be included in the mediation process so that their views are being heard.
Our family lawyers believe that childcare arrangements should be established in a harmonious environment and if possible without going to court. Expert children solicitor Jennifer Hargreaves explains how Child Inclusive Mediation works and the benefits.
What is Child Inclusive Mediation?
Family mediation is a process in which an independent, professionally trained mediator helps you work out arrangements for children and finances following separation. The role of a mediator is to help you find a solution that works for everyone involved and can also be helpful when arrangements you’ve made previously need to change.
Many children from separated families feel they weren’t spoken to during their parents’ separation. They are often left feeling upset that their opinions were not sought when discussing the changes or arrangements which would impact them. Often children have things they’d like to say or discuss but can sometimes feel hesitant to discuss these with their parents.
Some children believe they should protect their parents and therefore when they can see their parents are upset or angry, they worry about upsetting them further. Child Inclusive Mediation is a process where a family mediator also meets with a child. This enables the child to have a voice in what is going to happen next.
What is the purpose of Child Inclusive Mediation?
Mediators are happy to include older children of around 10 and upwards. However, many mediators are happy for younger children to be included with their older siblings to ensure they don’t feel left out. It is important to note that a mediator will only meet with a child (or children) where both parents and the child agree that this should happen.
Child Inclusive Mediation is not about getting children to choose which parent they will live with. Child Inclusive Mediation offers children a safe and neutral space to be heard. Many families have found this to be an invaluable process. It is a process that enables your children to discuss issues that they are worried about for example they may have creative ideas as to how to improve the situation that their parents have not considered before. They will be able to explain to their parents what life is like for them at the moment and what changes could be made at home which they would find helpful.
Why participate in Child Inclusive Mediation?
It is an opportunity for your children to have their say about arrangements that will impact them. Not all cases will be suitable and not all children will wish to partake, however, without asking them you cannot know whether they would find it beneficial or not. The aim of including your children in the mediation process is to produce a better outcome for you all. In addition, simply giving your child the opportunity to be included may ease relations in your family unit.
A mediator will only pass on to the parents what the child or children want them to. However, it provides your child with the opportunity to get certain concerns off their chest to someone who is not connected to the situation in any personal sense. They therefore may feel they can speak more freely without upsetting anyone’s feelings.
Expert family law advice
If you are going through a separation and would like to speak to a solicitor about mediation and children, or any other issue, please get in touch with our friendly family law team by calling 0117 906 9400, email firstname.lastname@example.org or use the contact form.