If you’re going through a separation with children involved, it can be sensible for your mediator to talk to them directly, without you in the room.
That might sound strange, but it’s important for children to have a voice when their parents are separating, and they don’t always feel comfortable speaking their mind openly in front of one or both parents.
This is true even in the most loving and caring of families – sometimes the child feels they would be letting you down, or they might think they are partly responsible for your decision to separate.
By allowing your child to talk to a family mediator, you give us an opportunity to find out what they are thinking, in a safe and supportive environment.
Where there’s a chance to use that to find a better way to proceed – for example, if it’s useful in deciding on residential arrangements for the child in the future – we will do so.
Leaving your child in the hands of a mediator should never make you feel uneasy. As trained professionals, mediators will not pressure your child into answering, nor will they direct questions in a way which encourages a specific response.
On the contrary, mediators will often ask open-ended and generalised questions. Rather than putting your child on the spot, they will get to know them by opening a larger conversation and asking questions about their school, family life, and hobbies.
For example, a mediator will never ask a child “Who do you want to live with”, but they may ask them to paint a picture of what their life is like at this moment. They could also ask questions like:
Overall, well-trained mediators will never try to rehash traumatic events or put your child in a state of distress. On the contrary, mediators will create a neutral environment in which your child can express their feelings and needs safely.
We wouldn’t talk to children in mediation if it didn’t help. Asking your child how they are feeling and if they have any worries can identify issues that could be preventing you from making meaningful progress in your separation negotiations.
In the most obvious examples of this, the child might have clear ideas about where they want to live as their primary residence in the future, which you may choose to respect as much as possible.
Less directly, that could be an indication of a deeper worry in the child’s mind, such as how well they think one or other parent will cope with the separation.
We will always proceed with caution and gently ask the questions we believe will help the most, before reporting back to you so that you can decide how to use that information positively in the arrangements you make for your child or children going forwards.
If you have any questions, call us on 07791 560 161 or fill out this form