No one wants to go through a divorce or child custody case. They are financially and emotionally difficult for everyone involved, including the parties’ minor children. In the vast majority of cases, the parties will reach an agreement before having to go to a final hearing. Mediation is a common way parties may reach such a settlement. During mediation, the parties will sit down with a neutral third party who will attempt to facilitate a settlement on the issues in the case. Mediation allows the parties to craft an agreement that is suited to their family and their children’s needs. In some cases, the parties may want or need their child’s input when creating a parenting schedule. Child inclusive mediation can be a good alternative for these types of cases.
In child inclusive mediation, a child can provide insight into what he or she wants without having to actually join the mediation sessions. The parents will each have a meeting with a child consultant or a child psychologist to talk about the case. The child will then have a separate meeting with the consultant. At mediation, the child consultant or psychologist will then attend the mediation sessions in place of the child. The consultant provides feedback to the parents and mediator based on the information gathered from the parents and the child.
Child inclusive mediation has the main benefit of allowing the child to voice his or her opinions and preferences without having to be present at or participate in the actual negotiation. It also can provide parents with essential information about what the child wants and needs without placing the child in the difficult situation of confronting the parent directly. Hearing a child’s preferences or opinions from a neutral party such as a child psychologist can help parents gain new perspective and approach the case in a more cooperative manner.
Although child inclusive mediation can be a good way to help parents cooperate to make a parenting schedule, it is not appropriate in all cases. Especially where the child is too young or where the case involves parental alienation, this approach may not be beneficial.
Call us today at (320) 299-4249 for a consultation. We can talk with you about mediation, your divorce, and your child.