Importance Of Child Inclusive Mediation In Divorce

Couples may have zillion reasons to part ways, some logical and some emotion. Whatever they are, a divorce can have tremendous psychological impact on children. Children, at times are old enough to have their own perspective of what is happening in the family. They would want to express their opinion and want to have a say in the mediation process. Apparently, a couple when decides to separate, would be under immense emotional stress and have overwhelming possessiveness over their children. Apparently, children cannot be left to the mercy of their parent’s advice. They need a neutral counsellor to listen impartially to their concerns and include them in the negotiation process. It is an integral part of the separation process at court MIAM (Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings). Research has proved that including children in consultation will only help parents make better decisions. However, this approach will be adopted only when the mediator, and parents think it is going to help the mediation process.

How can parents ensure child’s inclusion?

First of all, child inclusive mediation is not any kind of therapy. It is a process wherein a specialist trained as child consultant will talk to the child to understand and express his/her thoughts and feelings about the separation.  The only aim here is to allow the child to express their opinions on the matters involving them. UK Government stipulates that children aged 10 and above should be included in the mediation process. Depending on the maturity of child, the age can vary. In case of having siblings, opinion of younger children should also be considered. If the siblings should be met together or separately is matter of situation. The outcome depends on what the mediator thinks is best in the children’s interest after considering their ages, personalities and interpersonal relationship.

Not a mandatory process

Just like the couple mediation process, Child Inclusive Mediation also is a voluntary process. Only when parents agree to include children, the mediator can talk to the kids. When the mediator raises Child Inclusive Mediation, the couple can decide for themselves if they want to include children in the process. If couple agrees for Child Inclusive Mediation, the mediator will refer them to an appropriate child consultant and help the couple raise the issue with their children. That apart, Child Inclusive Mediation cannot take place at the parent’s place. A neutral location such as a family friend or the mediator’s office would be more appropriate. The couple can discuss the options for the conveyance to and from the mediation session.

What if the kids do not want to participate?

It should be absolutely in kids’ mandate if they want to express their opinion or not. That implies they cannot be forced to participate in the mediation process. Even in case of agreement, children will have control over what information is shared with the parents. Otherwise it will all be kept confidential. However, a child’s opinion will not have any legal weightage, i.e., they cannot take decisions but only influence the outcome in matters relating to them. Child Inclusive Mediation only gives opportunity to parents and children process the separation and thereby make decision-making process smooth.