Direct Consultation with Children in the Mediation Process
We provide the facility for children to be included in the mediation process.
Research indicates that at the time of separation children feel as though they no longer have a voice in the future structure of their family. They have anxieties about how the new arrangements are going to work and how it will impact upon their lives in terms of maintaining friendships, schooling, relationships with extended family group members, etc.
The Divorce and Separation Centre offer children an opportunity to express their views and wishes about the issues affecting them post separation. Parents are routinely encouraged to consider inviting their children to participate directly in the mediation process.
We believe that most children appreciate the opportunity to be heard directly.
Parents are assured that:
Children will not be asked to make choices or decisions
Parental authority is respected
Children are seen only with the agreement of both parents
We will discuss fully with them the process and purpose of a “listening meeting” before involving children
When are children involved?
Children can be invited to meet with the mediator
At an early stage, to ensure that their issues are included in the parental agenda
Once options have been identified and explored, in order to hear their views and take them into account
At the end, to communicate and explain proposed future arrangements and to “fine-tune” them in light of children’s response
The stage that parents are at in negotiating their future arrangements is likely to be a key factor in deciding when to involve children. With highly conflicted couples, or couples at very different stages in accepting the end of the marriage or relationship, early consultation with children is unlikely. The mediator’s discussion with the parents about the purpose and process of involving children will guide decisions on timing.
Children and parents are told that this can be an opportunity for children to talk privately with the mediator. Parents will only be told what children wish them to hear (with the important exception to confidentiality in relation to risk of harm).
Kids in the Middle: http://voicesinthemiddle.org.uk/
The Parenting Plan: https://www.cafcass.gov.uk/grown-ups/parenting-plan.aspx