A Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting, (MIAM) is the first step that separated parents usually take before attending court to try to resolve conflict around a range of child arrangements including schooling, living arrangements, and travel abroad. This mediation does not usually include the child.
How Has Child Inclusive Mediation Evolved?
In recent decades, awareness of the importance of children’s rights has grown. Important declarations such as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child have promoted the status of children’s own voices in judgements about their welfare.
Why Do Children Need to Get Involved?
Child Inclusive Mediation gives children a voice at a time when their parents are either separating or have separated. A child may feel unheard for a number of reasons. They might feel their loyalties will be torn if they talk to either parents or other family members. Outside of the family, children may not want their friends to know.
When speaking to a mediator, a child won’t have any prior relationship with that person meaning they will be freer to speak their truth. The mediator will also perhaps be one of the few people communicating with both parents.
Is Child Inclusive Mediation Similar to Mediation Adults Attend?
It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that Child Inclusive Mediation is like adult mediation with the child simply dropped into the mediation session. That is not what happens, so let’s look at how Child Inclusive Mediation does work.
Can Any Child Take Part in Child Inclusive Mediation?
A child should be over the age of 10 before they are considered for such mediation. Additionally, both parents must give permission for their child to take part in mediation.
What happens at Child Inclusive Mediation?
If the child agrees to meet a mediator, they will do so without their parents. At that meeting, the mediator explains that their conversation is confidential unless they tell the mediator anything that puts them or another person at risk.
It is then up to the child what they share with the mediator; even more importantly, the child will decide what information the mediator can share from the meeting with their parents.
What Do Children Usually Want to Share With Their Parents?
Most children want some information fed back to their parents. Some just want their parents to know they love them equally or that they don’t want things to change. Others may ask their parents not to ask them to pass messages to the other parent. With older children, many have a view on where they would prefer to live.
The mediator will also tell a child that although their views may be shared with the parent, any decisions about such matters will not be made by them. The child must know that they are not being asked to decide what happens or be burdened with making decisions that their parents should make.
Why Should You Use Child Inclusive Mediation?
The feedback session can often be emotional for the parents when they hear how their child is experiencing the break-up of their family. It can give be a compelling way to refocus parents on what their children need from them.