Child Inclusive Mediation - What happens?
This is a big subject to cover in one blog. I am therefore going to provide a short overview of Child Inclusive Mediation, what it is and what you can expect today and come back to more on the subject in later blogs.
Firstly, I dislike the name. Child Inclusive Mediation (CIM) sounds like your child comes to a mediation meeting with you and your ex and gets to witness the meeting between you. That is definitely not what happens.
Research has shown that children often feel that their voices are not heard when their parents separate. CIM was developed to give children a forum to be heard by someone independent of their parents. Children love their parents, want to protect them and will often not tell them how they are feeling about the separation for fear of upsetting one parent or the other.
A CIM meeting takes place as part of the mediation process. The parents will have their individual meetings and at least one joint meeting before a CIM meeting. The parents have to give their consent for the mediator to meet with the child/ren. Usually CIM is offered to children aged 10 or over but it may be offered to slightly younger children or when there is a younger sibling under the age of 10.
Once the parents have given their permission for the CIM the mediator will then write, email or message the child and invite them to a meeting (the time and date will have been agreed with the parents in advance) and it is the child’s choice as to whether they meet with the mediator. Most children are curious and take up the offer of a meeting.
At the CIM the mediator will explain to the child that the meeting is completely confidential (unless safeguarding issues are raised) and that only the information the child wants to share will be fed back to the parents. It is made clear to the child that it is not for them to decide how and when they spend time with each parent, that is for their parents to decide. However, information which is fed back will be heard by their parents and may effect the decision making of the parents.
There will be a further joint meeting with the parents where the mediator will feed back any information the child has agreed to from the CIM. The feedback meetings are often very powerful and can be emotional. They often help to move parents forward in their decision making and ensures that the mediation process remains focused upon the child’s needs.
CIM is a process designed for children whose parents are or have separated. It is one of the few forums available where they can speak to an independent person who is also speaking to both of their parents. Children find the meeting invaluable and feel that they have had a chance for their voice to be heard in what is a difficult time for all the family.