Children’s lives can become very complicated when their parents separate. A young person may be an only child in one household and the youngest of stepsiblings in another. There may be many new relationships to navigate.
It’s helpful for children if their parents are able to use mediation as part of making the transition to being separated parents. It can also be helpful for the young person to have the opportunity to meet the mediator.
The views of young people are an important factor when arrangements are being made which affect them. Because I am trained in child inclusive mediation I am able to offer young people the chance to have direct involvement, if they wish.
The objectives of child inclusive mediation are:-
- the opportunity for children to have a voice in practical decision making
- to allow young people to feel they understand better what is going on in their family and that they have been heard in the midst of the changes
- to allow parents a supported process to gain a fuller understanding of how separation feels for their children and what might make things easier
The building blocks of child inclusive mediation are:-
- it is for children aged 10 and over
- both parents need to agree
- the young person has a choice about whether to participate
- the young person has control over what, if anything, is fed back
One of the benefits of child inclusive mediation is that where young people have a voice in making arrangements, the arrangements tend to work better!
There are really good reasons for using mediation as a route out of conflict into building a more workable future. But sometimes one partner has behaved very badly during the relationship and been violent, manipulative or dishonest. They may want to keep control. The legal framework gives a route out of that situation. It’s there to provide a safety net in that situation.
A relationship like that can be so upside down that the one who was violent, manipulative and dishonest behaves as if they are in the right. The one at the receiving end can feel responsible and guilty. If that sounds like your situation it’s important to get advice from a family lawyer.
It’s unlikely that mediation will be appropriate in those circumstances.
Because separation can feel like such an earthquake, sometimes it can be hard to make sense of the situation. Things can get particularly complicated where a new partner comes on the scene at the time of a separation. It can be hard in those circumstances to avoid seeing the new partner as the only reason the relationship is ending. It can seem like a violent betrayal of trust that rules out co-operation for the future. The trouble is that makes it really hard to work together as parents and also to sort out the practicalities sensibly. Children and finances can become collateral damage. Mediation can help in those circumstances to rebuild communication and establish a working relationship as parents.
So, before pushing the thought of mediation away give yourself the chance to consider whether you’re trying to move away from a violent, abusive or dishonest relationship or whether you’re trying to cope with the hurt of the ending of what seemed to you like a good relationship