What is a Child Inclusive Mediation?
A Child Inclusive Mediation is similar to a Family Dispute Resolution session but it involves a child psychologist (or similarly qualified expert) who is engaged as a Child Advocate.
The Child Advocate's role is to ascertain the views and wishes of the children who are involved in the parenting dispute (sometimes referred to as a custody dispute). The Child Advocate will meet with both parents and the children involved before the mediation session. The Child Advocate then attends the session with the parents and the mediator and provides their feedback about how the children perceive the current relationship between their parents, how the separation has affected them, how they feel about the time with each of their parents, any preferences they have expressed and any other information the Child Advocate believes may be relevant.
The children do not ever attend the mediation session themselves.
When can a Child Inclusive Mediation be arranged?
There is no minimum age at which a Child Inclusive Mediation can be arranged. The parties can choose to proceed with a Child Inclusive Mediation with children of any age. Obviously, younger children will have more limited communication skills and a different understanding about the situation between their parents. This will need to be considered when discussing the possibility of a Child Inclusive Mediation.
Child Inclusive Mediations are most commonly used with older children and are particularly helpful for situations involving teenagers who may have become resistant to contact with one of the parents, or where one parent is concerned about a child becoming alienated from one of their parents for whatever reason.
What are the benefits of a Child Inclusive Mediation?
Child Inclusive Mediations have a number of benefits for both parents and children. By engaging a Child Advocate to bring the children's views and wishes to the table, the parents are better able to remain focused on the best interests of the child.
Parents who have engaged in a Child Inclusive Mediation report that agreements they have made are more likely to be successful because the children feel they were included and consulted as part of the process. Children are generally happier with arrangements made, even when those arrangements differ from what they may have expressed in terms of their preferences.
Parents have also reported better insight into how much their conflict negatively impacts their children. This usually leads to more effort being made by both parents to improve communication and limit the conflict moving forward.
Finally, parents and children also have the opportunity to continue to engage in Family Therapy with the Child Advocate as a way of improving the relationship between a parent who has felt alienated from a child or improving the parents' co-parenting relationship.
If you are interested in engaging in a Child Inclusive Mediation, please contact us to discuss your matter further.