A non-confrontational approach
The collaborative and non-confrontational nature of family mediation can be a big help when children are involved. Parents need to work together for their children’s benefit even after they have separated or divorced. Not only are arrangements produced by both parents working together likely to be less stressful for all concerned and to last for longer, the experience of reaching agreement on the future is likely to encourage them to cooperate in the future.
Focusing on the children’s experience
Research suggests that children find it very difficult if their parents separate or divorce, but that the experience is much worse for them if they are very aware of their parents arguing with each other, particularly if they know that their parents are arguing about them. Family mediation offers a calm and neutral environment in which issues concerning children can be discussed and resolved without making the children feel that they are the cause of their parents’ unhappiness.
Our family mediators focus on the needs of the children in the family, and are able to provide further information about what children themselves have said about divorce and separation and about wanting their parents to work together.
Asking the children what is important to them
Again, research strongly suggests that children don’t like the idea that they have to ‘choose’ between parents but that they do like being invited to contribute to the process. We are committed to giving children a voice within mediation. This means giving them an opportunity to say what they think is important for the family going forward. We see children of all ages as part of the mediation process; if your child is 10 or over, we strongly recommend that they are invited in to talk to a mediator, in line with government policy. This process is called child-inclusive mediation – all child-inclusive mediators must be specially trained and must re-accredit at regular intervals. For many years we have placed special emphasis on this work and we do a great deal of it. Our founder, Sheila, in particular assisted other family mediators with this work and provided training on this subject.
'While mediation provides the chance for parents to repair their relationships sufficiently to be able to co-parent more positively in future, litigation in a real sense teaches couples to argue and to litigate, sometimes rather too well.'
Harte and Howard ‘Encouraging positive parental relationships’