Child-inclusive mediation involves a specially trained family mediator talking with a child or children affected by parental separation and divorce; in its Voice of the Child Report, the Ministry of Justice recommended that this service should be offered to all children aged 10 and above.
It is important that parents understand the thoughts, needs and feelings of their children and involving them in the mediation process may be a good way to do this. Children like to be informed and appreciate having their views and options heard, although it is always made clear that they are not responsible for any overall decisions – these need to be made by their parents.
In exceptional circumstances, younger children may meet with the mediator, and of course younger siblings often wish to be involved too. Adult children may also choose to have their voices heard since they too will be affected by their parents’ separation.
Child-inclusive mediation with a child means the child talking face to face with the mediator separately. This conversation is confidential between the mediator and the child. However, very often the child does have something that they want the mediator to tell their parents, and that they would like the parents to take into consideration when making their decisions. Strictly with the child’s permission, the mediator will then bring the child’s voice into the mediation. This feedback is done verbally to the parents, there is no written report, but parents can hold in mind their children’s perspective as they decide how to manage child arrangements and co-parenting.
The child and both the parents have to agree to the consultation and the mediator must decide whether child consultation is appropriate.
Consultations with a child usually last approximately 45 minutes. Siblings will be seen separately or together depending on what the children themselves prefer.