helping to make change positive

Mediation and Children

Mediation and Children

Working out arrangements for children is one of the reasons why people choose Rathbone Family Mediation. When parents separate, the decisions about where the children will live, how they will spend time with both parents and all of the many other associated issues are often very tricky to manage. It is usually a time where both parents are experiencing some very strong feelings and emotions – loss, sadness, anger, hurt and guilt.

Having an experienced family mediator to help you not only articulate how you are feeling but enable you to feel heard and acknowledged can be the first step in working out your child-related issues.

Following separation, many parents have opposing views on where the children should live and what is best for them. They become swept up in a conflict which, if not checked and resolved, may have long-lasting negative repercussions on their children. From living in one house without any restrictions, children suddenly find themselves with two houses and two different sets of arrangements, which commonly one parent feels are unfair or unreasonable.

It is also likely that the children are caught in the middle and may start taking on roles or being asked to pass on messages. They may feel torn, guilty, angry and sad. They will just want to get on with their lives and often simply want their mum and dad to sort it out.

Using skills such as active listening, summarising and reframing, Rathbone Family Mediation can help you to slowly acknowledge that your role as co-parents needs to continue in an effective and respectful way. You may not love or like each other, but you are inextricably linked through your children.

There is no set format or boilerplate template for you to follow, and each family situation will be different. However, Rathbone Family Mediation will help you focus on the challenge of creating a workable routine which makes sense not just to you but to your children.

Issues such as effective communication are often raised by the mediator. Without a good line of communication, child arrangements often break down due to misunderstandings, crossed wires or sometimes just a mis-reading of a text message. When communication is clear, respectful and offers up open suggestions rather than closed questions, arrangements for children will often work smoothly and are far easier to tweak or vary when necessary.

Common areas which are covered in child-focused mediation include:

  • how and when the children will spend time with either parent
  • how this routine may differ during the school holidays
  • arrangements for special days such as Easter, Christmas and other religious festivals, birthdays (parents and children), bank holidays, Mother's Day and Father's Day

Participants may also include grandparents who the family courts do recognise have an invaluable role to play in their grandchildren's lives.

For children of ten or over, there is also an option for them to be part of the mediation process in what is known as a Child-Inclusive Mediation (or CIM). This can be an important and powerful addition to the mediation process and enables the child or children to have a voice and to feel heard. Consent must be obtained from both parents and the child or children before a CIM goes ahead.

Without a good line of communication, child arrangements often break down due to misunderstandings, crossed wires or sometimes just a mis-reading of a text message.