Day Three of Family Mediation Week is about the storm of divorce ending when the pressure lifts, focusing on child-inclusive mediation and how this lifts the stress of divorce on families.
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 of divorce they often think of going through the court system. Some may even think of involving their children in the divorce court, but mediation is a peaceful alternative that shouldn’t be overlooked. It acts in the interests of all involved parties, making the experience less distressing and aiming to reach a reasonable agreement that pleases everyone.
How can child-inclusive mediation help weather the storm? –
Family mediation is fundamentally an inclusive process, and that means where children are involved, mediation can incorporate not only the biological parents’ points of view, but also those of step-parents, other family members and legal guardians, and the children themselves.
Choosing the best mediator to lift the pressure –
When choosing a mediator for your child-inclusive mediation sessions, there are a few industry standards you should be aware of:
- It is important that the mediator is trained in child consultation mediation and must be registered and qualified by the Family Mediation Council.
- The mediator must have clearance by the disclosure and barring service.
- Before any meeting the mediator should seek to get to know the child through their parents, focusing on their personality, stage of development and activities before exploring all options involving the child.
Find out how your child feels –
It’s hard to know how your child feels about your impending divorce unless you ask them – and sometimes speaking to a mediator is easier than speaking to a parent. Unless you involve your child in the process, you won’t know exactly how they feel about the decisions you are making, but child-inclusive mediation can ensure you’re aware while there is time to make changes to their future living arrangements and the time they spend with each parent.
Tackling the storm head on with the mediation process –
Once the mediator has identified that the child is mature enough to handle the responsibility of child-inclusive mediation, there are certain steps that must be taken:
- Both parents have to sign a form of consent for the mediation to go ahead.
- The mediator will then send an email to the child to introduce themself prior to the meeting, this makes them feel grown up and included.
- They can then meet with the mediator on their own, with siblings or with their parents. In my experience, most children want to opportunity to meet alone with the mediator so that they can talk openly and have their voice heard.
The mediation session itself is a short, informal meeting, tending to last half an hour to an hour. In this meeting the child will have a chat with the mediator about their point of view.
There is never any pressure on the child to continue the mediation and the session can be stopped at any point should the child wish to.
What happens when the clouds are parting?
After the mediation there is a feedback meeting which the child usually asks not to be present for, during this meeting a few key stages of the mediation take place:
- The mediator gives their feedback to the parents who have to be prepared to hear what the children have to say.
- Usually if all of the proper preparation work has been done between the mediator and the parents, then they are only too happy to listen to what their children have to say.
Once the mediation session is complete, if the parents don’t agree about what is best for the children, there is the option to go to court. However this usually is not necessary since the child-inclusive mediation usually produces a conclusive decision that both parents are satisfied with.
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 workplace mediation. Marcia’s accreditations include Family Mediation and she is a qualified child consultant practitioner. Her associations include the Professional Mediators Association and Resolution. Marcia is also a Resolution qualified Professional Practice Consultant (PPC). If you would like to resolve your separation issues through mediation please visit: marciamediation.co.uk