“Family mediation can hugely reduce the level of acrimony in family breakdown by assisting those involved to move forward into their changed lives with better communication and understanding, which in turn greatly helps any children affected” Deborah Turner, Convenor Family Mediation Council
What is child consultation?
- A separate meeting for a child (over 8 years) to speak confidentially with your mediator (younger siblings are always included)
- An opportunity for a child’s voice to be heard
- A facility that allows a child’s wishes and feelings to be understood
- A means of feeding back the child’s views to the parents if that is their wish
- Child consultation should not be confused with child counselling
How does child consultation work?
- It can be incorporated as part of the overall mediation process
- Children may ask to be included in the mediation process
- Parents may ask their mediator for a meeting for their child
- Children are made aware that their parents will listen to their views but that they as parents will make the final decisions
- Child consultations last approximately 1 hour
- A highly trained specialist mediator will have a face to face meeting with the child
- Siblings will be seen separately or together if they wish
- Parents can access this service regardless of whether they are using the mediation service
- There will be an assessment/planning meeting, the child’s meeting and then a feedback meeting for both parents
Why should separating/divorcing couples consider child consultation?
- Research shows children want their voice to be heard about future arrangements at the time of parental separation
- Research also shows that those children whose voice is heard settle better after the separation process is completed
- Continuing conflict between parents is damaging to children
- Children are often left on the sidelines during the separation process and hearing their child’s voice through a third party enables parents to ensure that consideration is given to the whole family when making decisions about arrangements
- Most children are attached to both parents and become distressed when their relationship with either is severed or damaged
- Children derive their security from doing ordinary everyday things with both parents
- Children do not necessarily need equal time with each parent, they do need two equal parents
What does it cost?
- We do not charge for the child consultation meeting when if forms part of the mediation process
- Public funding from the Legal Services Commission is available to those who are eligible. For those who are ineligible there is a sliding scales of fees based on gross income
THE NEXT STEP……
- Ask your mediator for more information about child consultation