When parents separate, it can be a difficult time for everyone involved, especially children. Children may feel confused, scared, and uncertain about their future. They may also feel caught in the middle of their parents’ conflict.
Child inclusive mediation is a process that can help parents to resolve their differences and make decisions about parenting arrangements in a way that is sensitive to the needs of their children. Child inclusive mediation can be undertaken privately or as ordered by the Court.
In most parenting matters, mediation is required before proceedings can be commenced. Mediation, and child inclusive mediation can be a useful tool to assist parents to make decisions about parenting arrangements without the expense of court proceedings.
In private child inclusive mediation, a counsellor is engaged in addition to a mediator. Most mediators can refer parties to an appropriately qualified counsellor who is experienced in this type of mediation. The counsellor meets with both parents and the children separately prior to the mediation. The counsellor attends the mediation to help convey the children’s wishes and/or assist the parents to consider their best interests.
It is not the job of the counsellor to put pressure on the children to make decisions or to take sides. Instead, the counsellor helps the children to express their feelings and to understand the different options available to them. Throughout the mediation process the parents remain in control over the final decision made, if any. The mediator’s job is to assist the parties communicate in order to reach an agreement that all parties can live with.
The child does not attend the mediation, the counsellor will attend and give feedback to the parties.
Child inclusive mediation is also available during court proceedings, either privately or within the court environment where ordered. During proceedings, the Court might order dispute resolution with a Court Child Expert. The Court Child Expert meets with the children prior to the dispute resolution and comes to the mediation with their best interests in mind.