In some cases, it may be felt helpful to offer the child or children of family breakdown the opportunity to meet with a mediator themselves – to give them a voice. Indeed, the UK government has said that if parents are using mediation to make decisions about child arrangements, it believes all children above the age of 10 should have an opportunity to see a mediator to ascertain their wishes and feelings.
Direct consultation with a child means the child talking face to face with a mediator separately, on the basis that what a child says is offered to them as a completely confidential meeting from anyone else including their parents.
Involving children in mediation can be complex and a great deal of preparation is needed before a mediator will speak to a child. When deciding whether or not it is appropriate for an individual child to be involved directly, Susan will talk through with both parents the many things to think about. Children may want to feel more informed about what is going on when there is family breakdown, it can take out some of the fear of the unknown. Children can also appreciate having their views and options heard and so sometimes a consultation with a mediator may be a good way for children to do this.
Very often children do have something that they want the mediator to tell their parents, and that they would like the parents to take into consideration when making their decision. Strictly with the child’s permission, the mediator will then bring the child’s voice into the mediation.
Involving children can be very useful if the right preparation is done.
All qualified mediators understand how direct consultation with children works even if they do not do this work themselves and Susan will be able to talk through the options with you.