Child Inclusive Mediation
In the middle of a divorce or separation, there is so much to think about, so much to sort out and let’s face it, you find yourselves in a place where you never expected to be when you set out on this path together and became parents.
And now there are lots of practical things to sort out and some overwhelming feelings to deal with for some people as well.
You won’t be surprised to read that the most stressful events in life (after death of a loved one) are divorce and moving.
And of course your children are your priority. You will fight for them and make sure that they suffer as little as possible as a result of the break-up of the family unit.
But what about your children?
How do they make themselves heard? How can you make sure their needs are met in this new world that they will need to live in?
What kids say
“I can’t say it to my mum because she’s upset enough already and I don’t want to upset her more”
“I just say what I think they want me to say.”
“ I just want them to know how I feel but I can’t do it. My dad will get angry and my mum will get upset”
How do you get to the truth?
Sometimes a child feels caught in the middle, saying one thing to one parent and something quite different to the other about the future they want
What is Child Inclusive Mediation (CIM)
It’s where the mediator meets separately with your child (away from your mediation meetings) and talks through how things look from their perspective. What they are finding good, bad, worrying, and how they view things going forward.
This meeting is voluntary for the child and what the child talks about is confidential. We work hard to create a safe space where they can express themselves. We then work together to find the words they want to pass back to their parents, via the mediator. The mediator relays the exact words at the next joint meeting with the parents.
The child does not take part in the parent’s mediation meeting usually. The decisions under discussion in mediation always remain with the parents.
Contact us now for a free, confidential chat about your situation
How this will help your children
In the meeting we do more than just ask what the children what they think about things at home.
We make sure they have enough age-appropriate information, We give them meaningful opportunities to express their views and explore options open to them, and for your child it means having those views listened to, respected, and considered seriously.
This lets them know that what they think matters
Frequently Asked Questions
My ex says it’s me turning the kids against him. How can I let him know that this is not coming from me?
CIM is perfect for this. Both parents will hear from the child about what the issues actually are (provided the child wants this passed back of course). A parent wrongly blamed for alienating the child will be able to show the other parent that these feelings are actually the child’s. And you can then work out how to handle this together
I’ve read a lot online and I know that this is parental alienation.
At Horizon we have mediators who have trained in parental alienation to an advanced level. We have strategies to identify if you are right or not and pathways set out about how to deal with these cases which we can share with you.
Are my children safe with you?
At Horizon all out mediators who work with children are DBS checked. Please let us know if you’d like to access the online certificate.
How do you meet with my two children?
Every child is different and we will find out a bit about them from you both, before we meet them. We will always spend some time in the meeting with each child separately. But for shyer children, they sometimes prefer to start off with their brother or sister. Which is fine
What if my child does not want to meet with you?
Then we will not be able to schedule a CIM meeting. Children do sometimes change their minds further down the road but it is a voluntary meeting for them at all times.
My ex will grill the children about your conversation!
We will ask you both to sign the consent form where we make it clear that we will only proceed if there is an agreement that this will not happen. And we tell the children that their parents have signed this agreement.
I know what my child thinks. I don’t need someone else to ask them!
It can be very difficult for children who carry our emotional baggage sometimes and who may feel like they need to be responsible for our feelings. If you have a close bond with your child, they may really struggle to say certain things to you, and the mediator may be able to help you both here.
I don’t want to make them meet with someone they’ve never met before.
Children must not be made to come. They cannot be made to talk to us.
But on the whole, most children have found the experience to be a positive one and some choose to come back and meet with us more than once, as matters develop. We are approachable, friendly, and non-judgmental. We handle the CIM meeting with care.
My ex will tell my child what to say to the mediator.
At Horizon we are all specifically trained to carry out the CIM meetings. As communication specialists, we are adept at spotting parents’ words coming out of children’s mouths. We know how to ask the right questions, how to look beneath the surface and we use our training to dig a little deeper in a child-friendly conversation.
My ex won’t let the kids meet with you. What next?
Once we have an opportunity to explain what we can offer, most parents will reconsider even if they are initially reluctant to try this approach. Particularly with the backdrop of what happens to children when matters end up in court. But we do require the consent of both parents so we cannot hold the CIM meeting if we don’t have these consents
I don’t want to put the children in the middle and make them choose.
The children will never be asked to make decisions. They will just be asked to share ideas that they have about what could work, going forward. We make it very clear that the decisions stay with the parents.CIM gives the children permission to share their thoughts and to find a way out of that ‘stuck in the middle’ feeling.
What is the role of the mediator?
The mediator is committed to ensuring that you both contribute equally in the mediation meetings. We help you to actively listen to one another and then consider all the information you have.
You can then negotiate and seek outcomes which are realistic and fair.
We balance the conversation, help you to test the reality of suggestions made and prevent conflict from escalating, conflict which prevents you from making agreements for the future.
The mediators are not there to judge you or your situation.
They do not make decisions for people. They may raise options which you may not have considered but it is up to you both to decide if those options will work in your situation.
You decide what you want the outcome to be: we will give legal information and use our conflict resolution experience and skills to help you on the way.
Why do we need to involve the children? Why can’t we just talk about what we know and make decisions?
Research has proven in a 4 year follow up that including the children (as opposed to just speaking about them) resulted in
- Less action over the care and living arrangements
- Higher rates of overnight contact with father
- Greater stability of care and contact arrangements
- Higher satisfaction with living arrangements for fathers and children
- Greater reduction in parent acrimony both mother and father
- Greater confidence of father in his parenting capacity
- Better management of disputes when they occurred post mediation
- Lower impact of fathers new partner on parenting disputes
- More report by parents of having learned something about their child
- Lower conflict between parents as perceived by children
- Children feeling less caught in the middle between their parents, children feeling less distressed about their parents conflict
- Lower levels of conduct disturbance in children