Date updated: Wednesday 7th February 2024

What is child inclusive mediation?

Mediation provides a forum for you and your former partner to take decisions together regarding your children following your separation from one another with the support of an independently trained and impartial mediator. To assist you in making these decisions, it can be very helpful to hear from your children, if old enough, as to how they are feeling about their situation. Child inclusive mediation provides the opportunity for your child’s voice to be heard when it comes to decisions which affect them.

How does child inclusive mediation help my child?

Research has consistently shown that children and young people wish to feel that they have been listened to and heard when it comes to decisions being taken about their future. Child inclusive mediation provides this opportunity for your child.

How old does my child have to be to participate in child inclusive mediation?

The government has suggested that children aged 10 and above should have the opportunity of meeting with an independent and suitably trained mediator when their parents are making decisions about arrangements which impact them. It will depend on the maturity of your child and the mediator will be careful to assess with you whether your child would benefit from child inclusive mediation. It is sometimes the case where there are younger siblings, they may also wish to be involved even if they are under 10 but there is no hard and fast rule and each case will be considered on its own circumstances.

How does child inclusive mediation work?

The mediator will meet first with you as parents to talk through your situation and whether it would be in your child’s interests to meet with the mediator. If it is felt that it would, the mediator will get in touch with your child to ask them whether they wish to meet up to share how they are feeling with the mediator. It is very important to understand that the child will meet with the mediator without their parents being there and what they say will be confidential. The child will then agree with the mediator what they would like the mediator to share with their parents, if anything. This ensures that the child feels that they are able to open up to the mediator, and that it is they who then decide what they wish to be communicated to their parents.

The mediator will then have a separate meeting with the parents to share any comments which they child wishes to relay. This in turn assists the parents in taking decisions regarding the arrangements for their care.

Where does the mediator meet the child?

The mediator will make arrangements to meet the child somewhere neutral, for example, the mediator’s office or the child’s school.

What kind of topics are discussed with the child in mediation?

The areas for discussion are usually led by the child as it is their opportunity to share how they are feeling about their parents’ separation. They quite frequently cover concerns which the parents may not have at the forefront of their mind such as the need to have 2 sets of uniform or when they are going to see their friends or the family pet. The mediator will also, where appropriate, assist the child in discussing other areas if it is felt that this would assist the parents in taking decisions together but will not ask direct questions such as ‘where do you want to live’ or ‘when do you want to see your mum/dad’.

Can I tell the court what a child has said in child inclusive mediation?

No. This is not a court process and is confidential. The views which a child chooses to share with their parents via the mediator are purely to assist their parents in taking decisions together regarding their future and are not to be shared if a court application is subsequently required. Neither will written reports be provided of what a child has chosen to share.