Direct Child Consultation
During Mediation in relation to child arrangements Family Mediators must consider how the voice of the child will be heard and consider whether this is something which needs to be sought independently of the parents.
At children 1st we are all specially trained to meet with children as part of the mediation
process where appropriate, and to find out from them how things are for them and what they want things to look like in the future.
We will consider the need to consult with children from 5 years and upwards and will routinely consider meeting with any child over 10 years of age where parents are not in agreement about their views, wishes and feelings.
Parents sometimes suggest that the child or children are involved in the mediation process. Sometimes the child makes the suggestion. It is important that parents understand the views, needs and desires of their children and involving them in the mediation process may be a good way to do this.
What does it involve?
Direct consultation with children involves a family mediator who is trained as a child consultant talking with a child or children as a part of a mediation in which arrangements are being made for children.
- Consultations with a child usually last approximately 45
- Siblings will be seen separately or together depending on what the children
- The child can either meet with the mediator who is already working
with the parents or, as often happens, with a different mediator.
Children like to be informed and they appreciate having their views and opinions heard, although they need to understand that they are not responsible for the overall decision.
Involving children in mediation can be very complex and a great deal of preparation is needed before a mediator will speak to a child.
Different considerations apply depending on the age and maturity of the child.
The child and both the parents have to agree to the consultation. It is the mediator’s decision whether child consultation is appropriate.
How can I prepare my child?
The mediator will share some information with you at the initial Mediation information meeting about this.
It is important that you don’t try to coach your child by asking them to say specific things to the mediator.
This can be distressing for your child and place them in a situation of being forced to choose.
What happens if the child says the want something different to the parents?
It is important for Parents to understand that the Parents are the decision makers in mediation, not the children.
It would be unfair and unrealistic to give children the responsibility for making adult decisions.