Family mediation is fundamentally an inclusive process.
This means that where children are involved, mediation can incorporate not only the biological parents’ points of view, but also those of step-parents, other family members and legal guardians, as well as the children themselves, projecting their voice and allowing then to be heard.
When choosing a mediator for your child-inclusive mediation sessions, there are a few industry standards you should be aware of:
- It is important that the mediator is trained in child consultation mediation and must be registered and qualified by the Family Mediation Council.
- The mediator must have clearance by the disclosure and barring service.
- Before any meeting the mediator should seek to get to know the child through their parents, focusing on their personality, stage of development and activities before exploring all options involving the child.
- To take part in child inclusive mediation, children need to be at least 9 years old. The mediator has to take careful consideration as to whether the child is of sufficient age and maturity to be directly involved.
The child mediation process
Once the mediator has identified that the child is mature enough to handle the responsibility of child-inclusive mediation, there are certain steps that must be taken:
- Both parents have to sign a form of consent for the mediation to go ahead.
- The mediator will then send an email to the child to introduce themself prior to the meeting, this makes them feel grown up and included.
- They can then meet with the mediator on their own, with siblings or with their parents. In my experience, most children want to opportunity to meet alone with the mediator so that they can talk openly and have their voice heard.
The mediation session itself is a short, informal meeting, tending to last half an hour to an hour. In this meeting the child will have a chat with the mediator about their point of view.
There is never any pressure on the child to continue the mediation and the session can be stopped at any point should the child wish to.
After the meeting
After the mediation there is a feedback meeting which the child usually asks not to be present for, during this meeting a few key stages of the mediation take place:
- The mediator gives their feedback to the parents who have to be prepared to hear what the children have to say.
- Usually if all of the proper preparation work has been done between the mediator and the parents, then they are only too happy to listen to what their children have to say.
Once the mediation session is complete, if the parents don’t agree about what is best for the children, there is the option to go to court. However this usually is not necessary since the child-inclusive mediation usually produces a conclusive decision that both parents are satisfied with.
Why choose child-inclusive mediation
The children are not there to make decisions but just to have their voice heard. The big advantage of child-inclusive mediation is that children need explanations and reassurance that their parents have been unable to give them and this process offers this.
By listening to children, you can show your care towards them, therefore child inclusive mediation should always be considered in divorce or separation cases involving children.
ABOUT MARCIA LISTER
A pioneer for mediation since commencing legal practice as a family solicitor some seventeen years ago Marcia has worked exclusively as an independent mediator since 2004, focussing initially on family mediation, and latterly on workplace mediation.
Marcia’s accreditations include Family Mediation and she is a qualified child consultant practitioner. Her associations include the Professional Mediators Association and Resolution.
Applying an approach, founded in both empathy and pragmatism, Marcia has successfully mediated a wide range of diverse disputes, both in and out of the workplace and at least a glimmer of a smile, maybe, on the faces of each participant at the close of the day is what makes her work so rewarding for all involved.
Marcia’s mediations are a platform to build successful outcomes for everyone concerned.
Marcia is also a Resolution qualified Professional Practice Consultant (PPC).
She provides support and guidance to assist newly qualified mediators working towards their senior accreditation level. She acts as a mentor and sounding board for the mediators and provides professional assistance and second opinions to help them move forward in their new roles.
To contact Marcia visit – marciamediation.co.uk