Can my child have a voice in Family Mediation?
Whether your child has the opportunity to have their say in mediation will very much depend on a number of things. The most important one being that the child chooses if they want to have the chance to be heard, as well as both parents giving their signed consent to allow the mediator to arrange to do this. The age of your child is also an important factor, children over the age of 10 are more likely to be considered suitable for CIM, although every child and family will be given individual consideration, and some mediators will work with younger children.
Mediators call this work Child Inclusive Mediation or CIM.
Mediators will also ask both parents to avoid trying to influence what their child might say or asking them about what has been said after their meeting. The meeting between the child and the mediator/child consultant is confidential, with the exception of any safeguarding concerns that arise, and the child is then able to choose what they want to be shared.
It is important for parents considering CIM to understand that Children are not being asked to make the decisions in mediation, they are being provided with the opportunity to have their voice heard to assist their parents in making the key decisions. It is not considered reasonable to place such a heavy burden of responsibility onto children.
All Family Mediators have had basic training to understand and be able to explain to parents the benefits and the importance of hearing from children over the age of 10years as part of the mediation process.
However not all Family Mediators are trained to undertake the Child Consultation work, as this requires more specialist training, but they can ask another trained mediator to assist them to consult with children as part of the process
In the majority of Family Mediation meetings Children don’t attend to share their views or participate in the discussions, although some Mediators are experienced and skilled at doing this work and will be able to support a meeting between children and one or both parents as part of the mediation process if this is deemed to be in the child’s best interest.
What does it involve?
Involving children in mediation can be very complex and a great deal of preparation is needed before a mediator will speak to a child.
It is a requirement that both parents must have attended a joint mediation session (this can be in shuttle) and have the mediator explain the process to them and you will each sign the consent form to say you understand and commit to the process.
The specially trained Mediator or a child consultant will invite your child to meet with them to talk to them about how things are for them and what they might like to see happen in the future. This could be about the arrangements that parents may be trying to make for the time the child spends with each of them.
- Consultations with a child usually last approximately 45 mons to an hour, and in most cases, this will take place at the mediators office, or in a neutral place where the child feels safe.
- Siblings will be seen separately or together depending on what the children themselves prefer.
- The child can either meet with the mediator who is already working with the parents or with a different mediator or child consultant.
- Parents are not able to sit in on the meeting with their child.
- The meeting is confidential, and the child chooses what they want to share, save for in the event any safeguarding concerns arise.
After the child’s views have been collected the mediator will arrange to meet the parents for a second mediation appointment to feedback anything the child wishes their parents to hear, before the parents move onto discuss next steps.
To find a Family Mediator who is CIM trained you can use the find a mediator search on the Family Mediation Council website, put in your postcode and ensure you check the box for qualified to see children in mediation, as well as the box qualified to sign court forms as all of those mediators are qualified to the highest standards in Family Mediation.
Children 1st Mediation