July 1, 2024

Why child-inclusive mediation matters for children  

By Nicki Mitchell, Jones Myers Family Law Mediator and Child Inclusive Mediator

Divorce and separation can be hard on children and can have long-term effects on their mental and physical well-being.

This is why at Jones Myers we seek non-confrontational solutions to relationship breakdown which put children’s interests first. As a Child-Inclusive Mediator, I would like to share the positive aspects of child inclusive mediation for parents and their children.

What is child inclusive mediation?

Child-inclusive mediation enables separating couples to avoid a lengthy, stressful and expensive  Court divorce.  

As a process, it gives children a voice and helps parents put their children’s wellbeing at the heart of their break up by talking about their needs and keeping them at the forefront of their minds when working out the practicalities of separation.

How does it work?

A child-inclusive mediator will firstly see both separating parents whose permission is required for the mediator to meet with their children on their own.

Once parents have consented, the mediator will make initial contact with the children to explain what the conversation would involve – and ask them if they would like to go ahead with it.

During one or more meetings with the mediator, the children can express their feelings about their parents’ break up. They are not asked to make choices or decisions about their personal situations and, although they can ask the mediator to relay what they have said to their parents, they are under no obligation to do so.

It is really important that everybody involved enters into child-inclusive mediation with the right intention – and are prepared for what might come out of it.

How old are the children involved?

The process usually involves children aged ten or over. Younger children can be involved with their older siblings however it is understandably not appropriate for tiny children. 

What are the benefits?

Child-inclusive mediation promotes a spirit of co-operation for separating parents to work out arrangements which put their children’s wellbeing at the heart of the break up.      

My experience reflects extensive research findings which re-inforce how children benefit from talking with, and expressing their feelings to, an impartial mediator – even if they do not want anything they said passed back to their parents.

Studies also confirm how children who have had their voices heard in this way tend to have better mental health outcomes as young adults compared to their peers who have experienced parental separation but have not gone through this process. 

For advice on child-inclusive mediation, mediation, or family law related issues, call us at Leeds on 0113 246 0055, Harrogate on 01423 276104, or York on 01904 202550. Visit www.jonesmyers.co.uk, email info@jonesmyers.co.uk or tweet @helpwithdivorce

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Image by 2147792 from Pixabay