As a parent, it’s normal to feel uncertain about how to give your children the right support through your divorce or separation. It may be uncharted territory, but you can successfully navigate this unsettling time—and help your kids emerge from it feeling loved, confident, and strong. Lisa Broddle, Stone Rowe Brewer’s Family and Collaborative Lawyer, Mediator and Partner, shares her thoughts on consultation with children during the mediation process.
“It is important that parents understand the views, needs and wishes of their children. The children may be reluctant to communicate this directly to their parents or say things to please both parents. Children want to be informed and have their views heard, although children need to understand that they are not making the decisions.”
“Involving children in mediation can be complex. Thorough preparation is needed before a mediator will speak to a child. Different considerations apply depending on the age, maturity and personality of the child. The child and both the parents have to agree to the consultation however it is the mediator’s decision whether child consultation is appropriate.”
“Direct consultation with a child means the child talking face to face with a mediator trained in direct consultation with children, separately, on the basis that what they say is completely confidential from anyone else, including the parents, except for safeguarding concerns. The child often does have something that they want the mediator to tell their parents and that they would like the parents to take into consideration when making decisions about arrangements for the future. The mediator will then bring the child’s voice into the mediation with the child’s express permission.”
“The child can either meet with the mediator, who is already working with the parents or with a different mediator. Consultations with a child usually last about 45 minutes. Siblings will be seen separately or together depending on what the children themselves prefer and will be encouraged to see the mediator individually. Children should generally be aged 10 years and over, but in certain circumstances younger children may be seen.”
“The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 12 provides for the child to express their views, as does Children Act 1989 s.3 which directs the courts to have regard to the ascertainable wishes and feeling of the child. The government has suggested that children aged 10 and above should generally have access to a mediator when questions about their future are being resolved in mediation. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/voice-of-the-child-children-to-be-more-clearly-heard-in-decisions-about-their-future”
If the topics mentioned here affect you and your family, or you would like to speak about any of these issues, please contact Lisa Broddle or Tanja Williamson at Stone Rowe Brewer, who will be able to answer any questions you may have. Please call 020 8891 6141 or e-mail email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
It is important that families are supported during divorce and separation. There are many websites with information designed to help children understand more about their feelings when parents separate: