Linda Hunter, Head of Family Law and accredited mediator at Rowlinsons Solicitors, answers some of the most common questions about mediation in this latest blog series.
What is Child Inclusive Mediation?
The role of mediation is to help parents to make arrangements for their children following separation or divorce. It is important that decisions about future parenting are made by the parents as they are the ones who know their children best. Parents are encouraged to consider all of the implications of the arrangements they propose to make for their children. The perspective of the children is crucial in helping parents in their decision making.
As part of the mediation process, the mediator will offer to see your child to give them the opportunity to talk to someone independent. This is what we call child inclusive mediation (previously Direct Child Consultation). This will allow the child to give their views on the proposals and arrangements you are talking about in mediation. The child should not feel they need to take sides, especially if there is a difference of opinion between the parents.
When parents are disagreeing about how to share their parenting, the voice of the child is sometimes not heard very clearly, as the adults are preoccupied. Child Inclusive mediation is an independent way of getting the voice of the child in the room.
What does the mediator ask the child?
During child inclusive mediation, the mediator will not be asking the child to make decisions about what they want or who they may wish to live with. This is for the parents to decide. However, it does give the child the opportunity to voice any worries, views or thoughts they might have on the proposals their parents are making.
How does Child Inclusive Mediation work?
The first step in Child Inclusive Mediation is for the mediator to meet with both parents to discuss the role of the mediator, and to consider whether it is appropriate for the child to be included in the process. The mediator will only see the child with the permission of both parents and we will write to the child to attend an appointment. If the child does not wish to see the mediator, they can say no. Both parents will be made aware of when the appointment is. The mediator will have talked to both parents about ways to prepare the child for this meeting.
The meeting with the child is confidential and at the end of the meeting, the child and the mediator will agree what can be fed back to the parents. The mediator will talk to the child about the limits of confidentiality; the same limits for the parents in the mediation process.
If there are brothers and sisters, they can be seen together or separately.
As part of the process the parents will have previously agreed with the mediator to a further meeting to hear what the child had to say. This will give the parents the opportunity to take account of the comments and views of their child and help them make decisions which best suit everyone.
What if I don’t like what the child tells the mediator?
Sometimes the information that the mediator feeds back following a child inclusive mediation session is difficult for parents to hear and sometimes it is unexpected. It might be that you are given feedback separately. Parents need to prepare for this and the mediator will talk to you about it beforehand.
Mediators do not deliver counselling to children in the child consultation sessions and they do not provide counselling to parents either. If you and the mediator want to explore counselling for you or your child(ren), they will discuss it with you as part of the initial consultation.
Contact us on 01928 735 333 to arrange your free initial 30 minute consultation or click here to email Linda.