Legal Features Writer
1:00 AM 20th January 2024
How To Protect Children From A Fractious Court Divorce
Image by Tumisu from Pixabay
Divorce and separation can be devastating for children who are understandably anxious about what lies ahead for them when their parents’ split up.
Their concerns include where they will live and go to school and if they will continue to see both parents, grandparents, wider family members, friends and family pets.
At Jones Myers we always put children at the heart of relationship breakdown. Family Mediation Week, which takes place across January 22-26, puts the spotlight on mediation as a non-confrontational option for parents to achieve this and avoid the expense, stress and delays of litigating in court.
Mediation can help separating couples find a way forward in a constructive and positive manner. The process can also include Child-Inclusive Mediation which ensures the Voice of the Child is heard.
How does Child-Inclusive Mediation work?
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A Child-Inclusive Mediator like me will firstly see both separating parents whose permission is required for the mediator to meet with their children on their own.
Once parents have consented, the mediator contacts the children to explain what the conversation would involve and asks them if they would like to go ahead. If they agree, the mediator meets with the children who can express their true feelings about their parents break up.
The children are not asked to make choices or decisions about their personal situations and, although they can ask the mediator to relay what they have said to their parents, they are under no obligation to do so.
How old are the children involved?
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Although there are no hard and fast rules about the age, Child-Inclusive Mediation usually involves children aged 10 or above, and younger children can take part with their older siblings. The process is understandably not appropriate for tiny children.
What are the benefits?
Divorce can have long-term effects on children’s mental and physical well-being. Child-Inclusive Mediation promotes a spirit of cooperation and communication for separating parents to put their children’s emotional and financial needs first.
Photo by Luke Pennystan on Unsplash
Our experience of its advantages align with the findings of extensive research which highlight that the opportunity for children to talk to an impartial mediator about how they feel is beneficial for them - even if they do not want anything they say passed back to their parents.
Studies have also shown that children who have had their voices heard in this way tend to have better mental health outcomes as young adults compared to their peers who have experienced parental separation but have not undergone this process.
Child-Inclusive Mediation can be highly effective with parents who are wholly committed to finding solutions which make their children’s best interests a priority. Preparing, advising and guiding them through the process, it helps them to reach outcomes which will stand them in good stead for the weeks, months and years to come.