The impact of family breakup can be enormous on children
Children can often hide their feelings during family breakup. Inviting children of an appropriate age to their own private meeting with a mediator gives them chance to express any fears or concerns they may have about their parents' separation, and help them to understand the changes taking place in their lives. Knowing how they feel can be extremely useful in their parents' decision making during their own mediation.
Forum Mediation no longer offers Child Inclusive Mediation but can recommend mediators that do and that can give children the opportunity to have a voice without the burden of decision-making which always remains with their parents. It is a confidential process and only things the child agrees to can be fed back to parents.
Both parents have to agree for their children to see a mediator and the mediator will need to have assurances that parents will not brief children before the meeting or cross-question or reproach them afterwards. Children must freely choose to come and be free to decide what feedback is given.
Research has shown that direct consultation with children in mediation has many advantages provided that suitability and appropriate safeguards are considered.
• It can enable children to be consulted and heard by both parents
• It can enable children to ask questions and contribute ideas
• It can give children the opportunity to express worries or concerns
• It can ease communication and reduce tension in parent-child relationships
• It can give children an opportunity to see a mediator alone to talk about their feelings and concerns without worrying how their parent will hear them
• It can give feedback to parents but only as requested by the child so that their ideas and feelings are taken into account in their parents’ decision-making
(Info from NFM)