Children to be included in family mediation sessions

Family justice organisation Resolution welcomed the recommendation that children be included in family mediation sessions.

The Government’s recommendation is given in the Voice of the Child Advisory Group report, published last week.

Resolution, which has long campaigned to make divorce and separation more child-focused, recently published a Parenting Charter calling for separating parents to prioritise their children’s rights to information and influence over decisions that affect their lives.

Resolution spokesperson Karin Walker said: “We’re encouraged by the Government’s firm support for the principle of child inclusive practice and the presumption that children and young people should have the opportunity to have their voices heard during their parents’ separation, including mediation.

“Whilst children should not be actively involved in the issues surrounding the separation of their parents, it is important that they have the opportunity to express their feelings about the impact of decisions on their lives.

“Resolution has actively supported children’s right to have their voices heard, with Resolution-trained mediators often being specially trained to see children in direct consultation.

“In this context, the issue of parental consent and confidentiality is vitally important. This has been carefully considered by the Advisory Group and reflected in the government report.”

The report endorses the principle of child inclusive practice and recommends the adoption of a non-legal presumption that all children and young people aged 10 and above should be offered the opportunity to have their voices heard directly during dispute resolution processes, including mediation, if they wish.

The 34 recommendations fall into five main groups, relating to:

  • defining and delivering child-inclusive practices
  • private ordering and ethical issues
  • monitoring of and accountability for child inclusive practice
  • the provision of appropriate information and support for children and young people
  • changes in the dispute resolution culture.