What is child-inclusive mediation?
The role of mediation between separated couples has become better understood over recent years, but what is child-inclusive mediation? It’s becoming more common, so let’s look at it.
Resolving parenting arrangements after separation is often difficult. Knowing what the child thinks about possible arrangements is often an issue, but how to independently ascertain those wishes can be a challenge.
It is important to remember that mediation for the parents is only compulsory if an Application is to be made to the court, in all other situations attendance is voluntary. Until recent times, children have never been apart of that process.
During the separation process, it may be important to hear how the child is experiencing their parent’s separation. Child-inclusive mediation can assist parents in understanding how their child is coping with the separation and current parenting arrangements. This process is important as sometimes the parent’s agenda and the child’s development and best interests are inconsistent.
What is Child-inclusive mediation?
Child-inclusive mediation is a voluntary process (although sometimes the court may order it) whereby children are included in the mediation process with a qualified child consultant.
It is a chance for children to speak safely and meaningfully about their experience through play and discussion.
The information obtained in a children inclusive mediation is confidential and is not admissible in court.
The Mediator will meet individually with each parent
The Mediator will determine if the matter is suitable for family dispute resolution and discuss the potential of a child-inclusive process. A child inclusive mediation is not always the best course of action and is determined on a case by case basis.
The child and Child Consultant meet with the Mediator
The child must give their permission before their views are passed on to the parents.
This step involves the parents, the child consultant and the Mediator. The child consultant will discuss with the parties how the child is coping with the separation and deliver any key messages the child would like the parent to know.
The Mediation process with both parents, their legal representatives and the child consultant then occurs. The child is not present during this session.
- The child may express their views and it gives them a voice without fear of upsetting either parent.
- The child may be a part of the decision-making processes without putting the pressure on them.
- It gives the parents an understanding of how the child is feeling/coping.
- Last but not least, it ensures that all parties are focussed on the child’s best interests.
Have a question?
Child inclusive mediation is not for everyone, it is another option that can be considered. If you would like to discuss your personal circumstances with an experienced family lawyer, call (07) 3221 4300 or email [email protected], or fill in our online form here to arrange an appointment.