Child-Inclusive Mediation (also known as Direct Child Consultation) is a way for your child’s 'voice' to be heard when issues relating them are being considered.
This can be particularly helpful when each parent has a different view of what their child may be feeling or saying. A child whose parents are separating can feel guilt and assume they have to take sides, or assume they have to say certain things to one parent in order to please the other.
This can lead to a child sending out different messages to each parent. By meeting with our mediator Zen Thompson, they have an opportunity to talk about their situation to a neutral person.
Direct Child Consultation can be useful in many different situations:
- Where we acting a mediator in your matter, or
- Where you are in mediation elsewhere but your mediator does not offer this service, or
- Where there are no court proceedings but you feel that your child should be heard (for example in negotiation between solicitors or in a Collaborative case), or
- Where you are in court proceedings but would like some indication of your child’s wishes and feelings without the involvement of CAFCASS
How We Can Help
We able to offer your child confidentiality (subject to any disclosure of harm). They can talk to our mediator Zen Thompson and what they tell him will not be reported to anyone and will not be shared with you as their parents unless your child gives permission to do so. Zen does not ask any point blank questions (e.g. 'Where do you want to live?') but tries to give your child the space and safety to talk. This often means that your child will feel able to be open and honest, and usually once they have said what they want to say, they are happy for him to share what they say with you. This means that they are often able to say things which they would otherwise not, and you will be able to hear from a neutral perspective how your child is really feeling, which can often be very powerful. Usually, a child will spend most of the meeting talking and Zen will spend most of the meeting listening!
Zen is specially trained to meet with children and has had an enhanced DBS check. You would not be in the room when he meets your child, but he never meets with your child on his own, a female member of staff is also present. All arrangements for the meeting will be made through you and he will not have any direct contact with your child other than in the meeting.
Zen will discuss the suitability of meeting your child with each parent in advance, and will only invite your child for a meeting when he has your permission to do so. It is then up to your child if they decide to meet him. Zen would not share any information you give him with your child without your permission.
Once Zen has met your child, he would meet with both parents to share what your child has authorised him to share with you. It is then for you to decide how to use what has been shared. The final decision-making will still remain with you.
For more information on Child Inclusive Mediation, please contact our Family Team on 01279 755777 or get in touch with Zen Thompson, Senior Associate Solicitor and Mediator in our Family Department.