Should children be involved in mediation?
What is the role of children in a divorce case? Should they come to court? Should they participate in mediation?
When I began practicing law in 1987, it was not unusual for parents to bring their children to court, unprepared, to testify. Due to the harm that the children experienced, our committee that passed the first Rules of Procedure for Family Law Cases included a rule that limited children’s involvement in court proceedings.
Is mediation different? Should children be included in mediation when the question of child custody is raised? While it may sometimes be beneficial to include some children in the mediation process, inclusion ...view middle of the document...
In FGDM the decision to include the children and the role that the children may play are dependent upon the age and maturity of the children. In most situations, the child will also have an advocate and counselor to assist them in the mediation. The FGDM process involves specific steps including the referral and the decision to include the children, preparatory meetings, the family meeting, (that usually includes private time for the family) and any follow up sessions to review the plan and the outcomes.
These two models raise a number of good questions that should be addressed before a child is involved in any mediation process.
How old is the child? Is the child sufficiently mature to understand that he or she will not be the decision maker in any matter and that he or she is participating to help the adults in reaching a decision?
Has the child been abused or neglected by either parent? Will the child feel safe participating in the mediation?
How is the child’s emotional well being? Does the child have support from a mental health professional? Does that...