Child-friendly Divorce – How Mediation Helps Children Cope with Divorce

Marcia Lister
Family Mediator and
Professional Practice Consultant (PPC)

Children can suffer from the stress of separation and divorce just as much as their parents, but mediation helps to give them a voice and more confidence in their future.

When families think about divorce they usually think of going through the court systems and putting a case forward.

Some may even think of involving their children in the divorce court, but mediation is a more peaceful alternative that should not be overlooked.

Mediation acts in the interests of all involved parties, making the experience less distressing for all and aiming to reach a reasonable agreement that pleases everyone involved.

What do Mediators do?

Throughout the mediation process, mediators aim to bring your divorce or separation to a mutually agreeable resolution, putting the control in your hands rather than leaving it to a judge in a court hearing.

Mediation can be used in all separation, divorce and even surrogacy cases, where mediators will listen to couples and also, where appropriate, your children’s views, opinions and feelings.

Mediators make it easier to come to a solution that suits everyone involved, for example on issues like property dividends, shared care and other assets where couples might struggle to come to an agreement on their own.

Is Mediation Compulsory in Divorce Cases?

As of 2014, divorcing couples are required by law to at least consider mediation before making any court applications.

The Children and Families Bill states that anyone seeking a court order to resolve a dispute over children, finances or property dividends must attend a ‘mediation information and assessment agreement’.

This is a beneficial act for both couples and the courts as it helps you to learn about the expensive costs and added stress of going through the divorce courts so that you can make your own informed decision.

While mediation is not mandatory – you can still choose to go to court if you wish – a mediator can also help you to compile submissions to the court too. The different approaches are complementary, rather than mutually exclusive.

Making Children’s Voices Heard in Divorce

For many families, keeping children away from the stress of the court system is very important, but children can feel anxious if they are not involved in the process. This is why child-inclusive mediation aims to include children throughout every stage of the process, giving them a say in their own future.

Inclusive child mediation prevents children from feeling powerless about their situation, when many are mature enough to have a say in their future.

Even if the children are not old enough to make a decision in their future, mediation will allow them to feel less ‘left-out’ when it comes to decision making on their behalf and reduces stress on the family as a whole.

While the final decision is always likely to be a compromise, child-inclusive mediation makes sure the child’s voice is heard, so the arrangements made on issues like where the children live and how often they see the other parent are more likely to be satisfying to both parents and to the child too – equipping everyone for a brighter family future, whatever the outcome.

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 work place 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 work place 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

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