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Child Inclusive Mediation

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Child Inclusive Mediation Lawyers

Child Inclusive Mediation lets the children of separating parents give their views on matters regarding them in a safe, private setting. When parents are preoccupied with disagreements about how to share their parenting, the voice of the child is sometimes not heard. Child Inclusive Mediation is an independent way of getting the voice of the child in the room to help the parents reach a solution that takes into account the interests of all parties.

Child Inclusive Mediation Lawyers

Family mediation can be a cost-effective solution enabling you to make informed decisions that are right for your circumstances, your future, and your family.

We aim to achieve resolutions quickly and amicably. when parents separate, these cases can become complicated, and being able to maintain a good relationship with your child or children and your ex-partner can make a huge impact.

Our Family Law Solicitors in Cheshire are based in our offices in Frodsham and Sutton Weaver. We are recognised as one of the leading teams of Divorce Solicitors in Cheshire, and regularly help clients throughout the Northwest region including St Helens, Widnes, Warrington, Chester, and Northwich. We are able to act for clients right across England and Wales, so talk to our team today.

Contact us for an initial no-obligation call or click here for a call back. We also have meeting facilities in Colwyn Bay and Mold for Family clients.

What is Child Inclusive Mediation?

Child Inclusive Mediation is a branch of Family Mediation for children of divorcing or separating couples. It is a way to help parents attain useful feedback to better inform the arrangements for their children. It can form part of the mediation process and is an option that will be discussed with you by your mediator.

The role of mediation is to help parents make the best plan for their children following separation or divorce. Child Inclusive Mediation involves setting up a meeting between your child or children and a specialist mediator. This gives them the chance to talk to an impartial, sympathetic professional about their feelings, hopes and wishes regarding their situation.

This allows 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. It is not for the child to make decisions about the arrangements being considered, but Child Inclusive Mediation can be helpful to hear from the children so the parents can make informed decisions.

The idea behind Child Inclusive Mediation

The guiding principle behind Child Inclusive Mediation is that children have the right to a say on matters that affect them. Even though it’s the responsibility of the parents to make plans and decisions, the child deserves to be heard.

Children like to share their opinions and feelings. It helps them feel respected and valued and any feedback they choose to offer helps inform your plans.

What are the rights of the child?

Child Inclusive Mediation is aligned with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which emphasises that children have the right to be consulted in matters which affect them.

Children over the age of ten years old should be made aware of their right to speak to a child inclusive mediator. Either parent has the authority to exercise a veto on this and child inclusive mediation can only go ahead where both parents agree.

Why use Child Inclusive Mediation?

Decisions about future parenting must be made by the parents as they are the ones who know their children best. Parents are encouraged to consider all 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.

Children often feel caught in the middle of their separating or divorcing parents. They might want to avoid hurting your feelings or making you angry. No matter how close you are to your child or children, it can be impossible for them to express how they truly feel about their situation with you and the other parent.

That’s why involving children in the mediation process in a safe and confidential space can help draw out any issues or desires they’re holding back.

What are the advantages of Child Inclusive Mediation?

1 It gives the child a voice.

So often the voice of the child is not heard when parents are caught up in divorce proceedings or separating. Child Inclusive Mediation gives them the opportunity to open up and share their authentic thoughts, feelings and desires and contribute to the plans for the future when their parents separate.

2 You can develop ideas for your childcare arrangements.

Child Inclusive Mediation allows the parents to discover what’s really going on inside their child’s head. Your child may surprise you with how they really feel and what they’re thinking. They may have even thought of some viable solutions you’d overlooked.

3 Child Inclusive Mediation keeps the childcare arrangements out of the court.

Undertaking Child Inclusive Mediation may save you the large legal fees and stress of going to court. Using your child’s feedback to make effective arrangements through mediation or collaborative law is cheaper than a lengthy court battle where a judge will have the final say.

4 You can avoid intervention from other services.

If parents can agree on what’s best, they can avoid court orders and statutory involvement from local services, saving themselves and their children from extra stress while remaining in control of the process.

5 You make the best arrangement for your child.

Parents can use the feedback to influence their decision-making when making plans for shared parenting.

Who is the mediator?

The mediator must be specially trained in Child Inclusive Mediation. Family mediators involved in Child Inclusive Mediation must have taken a specialist course where they learned the correct procedures, with an emphasis on taking care of the safety and well-being of the child.

Our accredited family law mediation services include a trained and qualified Child inclusive Mediator.

How does Child Inclusive Mediation work?

The first step in Child Inclusive Mediation is for both parents to meet with the mediator, fully discuss their role and consider whether it is appropriate for the child to be included in the mediation process.

The mediator will only see the child with the permission of both parents. 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. It is important that the child or children are not coached prior to a child inclusive mediation session taking place. It is crucial they are not questioned after the session either. They need to feel free to express their genuine feelings, free from parental influence.

Parental agreement

This is a voluntary service so you’re under no obligation to undertake child inclusive mediation. Both parents have to agree to child inclusive mediation before the child can be invited.

The mediator explains to both parents the basics. Both parents share and discuss their views with a mediation session. The mediator will ask screening questions on how parents will respond to certain feedback. Parents must confirm they will respect the views of their children and that they understand children’s rights. The mediator will assess whether child inclusive mediation is being used for the right reasons.

Inviting the Children

Once the parents agree to child inclusive mediation, the mediator is appointed. The mediator writes to the child directly to invite them and explain the process.

It’s the child’s choice whether or not they engage with this service. Although the recommended age from when a child can be invited is 8 years old, younger children will not be excluded. Every situation and child is different and it may even be suitable for some younger children.

Meetings take place without you present and are strictly confidential. The mediator will ask a series of open-ended questions which they will tailor to the age of the child. The child will never be asked to make a decision.

At the end of the meeting, the child and the mediator will agree on 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 allow the parents to consider the comments and views of their child and help them make decisions which best suit everyone.

Responsibility for safeguarding

You may be concerned about the safety and well-being of your child, especially at this emotionally vulnerable time. All child inclusive mediators must undertake a specialist course underpinned by child protection before being able to offer this service. If you have any concerns at all, your family mediator can talk you through all the safeguarding procedures in place to give you peace of mind.

What do children worry most about?

When parents separate, it throws up a whole list of new concerns for children such as:

  • Where will they live?
  • Will they stay in the same house?
  • When will they see their parents?
  • What about their friends, school, and activities?

Everything has changed for them, and they didn’t get a say in the matter. Child Inclusive Mediation gives children a voice. In the confidential meeting, they can feel heard and talk freely as they don’t have to take anyone’s side. Sometimes you’d be surprised how much their concerns differ from yours.

What does the mediator ask the child?

The questions will cover matters you agreed to be considered which may include:

  • Feelings regarding the current living situation
  • Anything they would like to change
  • How do they feel about the time they spend with each parent
  • Do they have any particular concerns?

During child inclusive mediation, the mediator will not be asking the child to make decisions about what they want or whom 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.

What will I be told?

It’s confidential so your child can feel at liberty to speak freely. Nothing she or he says needs to be fed back to you if they don’t want, but often it’s a chance for them to get off their chest how they feel and find a way to tell you what they want you to know. Anything that is to be fed back to you will be agreed with your child during the process.

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.

How to use the resulting information?

It Is your choice what you do with the feedback, but it is advised that parents receive it objectively and take on board the wishes and desires of their children.

The important thing is to use the feedback constructively to plan childcare arrangements that will work for the whole family. Your child will appreciate that you took the time to listen to their thoughts and feelings.

After receiving the information prepare yourself for some difficult conversations as it may be clear that not all the wishes of your child can be met. It is better if both parents can present a united front for the children. Ideally, it will minimise stress for the children if you can talk constructively with each other about the arrangements and avoid bringing conflict into the discussions.

The court may take a dim view of a parent who ignores the reasonable wishes and feelings of a child expressed during the mediation process.

Why choose Child Inclusive Mediation?

It is recommended that children are consulted in matters relating to them and can share their thoughts and feelings on the subject. In the confidential meeting, any issues that were hidden can be freely expressed.

You’re making plans that will affect you and your child’s future. It’s vital to get all the information and consult on the feelings of those involved to make the best arrangements for the children so that together you can move forward to a brighter future.

Child Inclusive Mediation can be a positive process for the whole family. Your mediator will discuss this option with you to see if it is right for you.

When is Child Inclusive Mediation not suitable?

Child Inclusive Mediation may not be suitable for several reasons:

  • Your children are under the age of eight years old.
  • There are a number of agencies involved already and adding more may be confusing.
  • There are obvious indicators of child abuse.
  • Counselling or child services already involved have given the opinion that it wouldn’t be suitable.
  • Parental alienation may influence what the children say.
  • One or both parents don’t agree to child inclusive mediation.
  • The child lacks the emotional or cognitive understanding to take part.

If your child is already involved in counselling, depending on your counsellor’s process, it might allow for feedback which mitigates the need for further talks with your child. Your family mediator will be able to discuss with you whether it’s right for you.

What Child Inclusive Mediation is not

This is not a way to get the child to decide matters that are the responsibility of the parents. Nor is it a way to skew the results of the divorce in one parent’s favour. During the screening process, the mediator will look closely to see if child inclusive mediation is being used for the right reasons.

The research concludes time and again that children do not want to be asked to make a choice that favours one parent or to make important decisions. There is an important distinction between canvassing your child’s opinion and asking them to decide based on matters that are too complicated for them to fully understand and are ultimately your responsibility.

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.

Does Child Inclusive Mediation work?

The success of child inclusive mediation depends on the willingness of both parents to listen to the feedback and use it to inform their plans.

At Rowlinsons, we’ve helped many families with Child Inclusive Mediation to better inform their childcare arrangements after divorce. We understand that you want to act in the best interest of your child. Child Inclusive Mediation helps by giving you a fuller picture of what’s going on with your child even if it’s not practical to fulfil all your child’s wishes.

  • Laura Jones
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Contact our Child Inclusive Mediation Solicitors

Your children's wellbeing is our priority, whatever the circumstances may be. The Child Inclusive Mediation Solicitors at Rowlinsons are qualified professionals, who pride themselves on their friendly approach to all Alternative Family Dispute Resolution cases.

We will always aim to achieve resolutions quickly and amicably. These cases can become complicated, and being able to maintain a good relationship with your child or children and your ex-partner can make a huge impact.

Our Family Law Solicitors in Cheshire are based in our offices in Frodsham and Sutton Weaver. We are recognised as one of the leading teams of Divorce Solicitors in Cheshire, and regularly help clients throughout the Northwest region including St HelensWidnesWarringtonChester, and Northwich. We are able to act for clients right across England and Wales, so talk to our team today.

Contact us for an initial no obligation call or click here for a call back. We also have meeting facilities in Colwyn Bay for Family Law clients.