Should children be involved in the mediation process?
Going through divorce or separation is challenging, particularly if you havechildren. If your children are old enough, they may also express worry,concern, or preferences about what they would like to happen. However, shouldyour children become formally involved in the process? This article looks atchild-inclusive mediation and whether it might be right for your family.
Whatis child inclusive family mediation?
Child-inclusivemediation allows children to be part of the mediation process in a structuredand practical way. Typically, couples use mediation to resolve any issues ordisputes that arise throughout the process of divorce or separation, andthrough child-inclusive mediation, your children can have their say too.
Children often wishto have their voice heard on divorce and separation matters, as it will have ahuge impact on their everyday life. They may have opinions about who they wouldlike to live with, how much time they will spend with each parent and even howmuch contact they would like with their wider family, such as grandparents. Youcan choose to listen to your child’s opinions using child-inclusive mediation.
Parents want toinvolve their child or children in the mediation process to provide them with asafe space to discuss their feelings and opinions. It can be very stressful forchildren to talk about living arrangements and other matters, as they don’twant to disappoint either of their parents. Most times, children simply telleach parent what they want to hear, which can cause greater conflict.
A mediator will helpyour child process their views and form clear opinions about what they wouldlike to happen in the future. Child-inclusive mediation can also lead to morechild-focused outcomes and help parents understand how to deal with theirchild’s opinions and emotions.
In most cases,being involved in the mediation process can actually improve the wellbeing ofyour child at a very difficult time. Children often feel frustrated and leftout during the divorce or separation process. Child-inclusive mediation canmake them feel like their feelings and opinions are being properly considered.Of course, if your child does not want to be involved in the mediation process,you should not force them to do so.
Child-inclusivemediation will not be suitable in most cases where children are under 10 yearsof age. If your child is over 10, the mediator may also still recommend thatyour child does not take part because they may lack the ability to processtheir emotions or understand what is going on and how it will affect them.Where you, as parents or the mediator, feel participation in mediation would bedistressing for your child, it would be best to keep them out of the mediationprocess.