We recently started offering a model of mediation that is child-centered and child-inclusive.
Here are some answers to the frequently asked questions we receive about this program.
Q: Do children attend every mediation meeting?
A: With this innovative program, the child consultation/mediator meets with both parents separately, and then meets with the child or children twice. The parents will continue their mediation process and the mediator will provide feedback from the children to the parents during the parents’ mediation meetings. A final meeting with the child or children will take place privately between the mediator and the child or children to conclude the process.
Q: We have already been separated for quite some time. Is there a benefit to Meeting with Children when we already are well-established co-parents?
A: Meeting with the Children can provide parents with feedback on how their current parenting arrangement is going from their child’s or children’s perspective. Parents do not have to be currently involved in the separation process for Meeting with the Children to be beneficial. Meeting with the Children can be a great way to “check-up” on how things are going for everyone in the new family structure.
Q: How is Meeting with Children different than Voice of the Child Reports?
A: Meeting with Children is for children between the ages of 5 and 18, whereas Voice of the Child Reports are generally only conducted with children age 12 and up. Voice of the Child Reports are generally court-ordered, though parents can request them, whereas Meeting with Children is a completely voluntary process. Voice of the Child Reports tend to be diagnostic in nature and whoever conducts the report may be called as a witness in a trial. Meeting with Children is intended to give the opportunity for the child or children to express themselves and provide feedback to their parents. This feedback is neutral, non-diagnostic, and the child consultant will not testify in a trial.
Q: What is the benefit of Meeting with Children?
A: Children are a part of the family structure. In separation and divorce, the parents’ interests are often considered over the interests of the child or children, even though embedded in legislation is that decisions in separation and divorce should consider the best interest of the child. Meeting with Children brings the interests of the children into the mediation process.
Q: How much does Meeting with Children cost?
A: Meeting with Children costs $500 + GST for families already using our mediation services.
Q: We are using lawyers. Can we still use Meeting with Children?
A: Meeting with Children can be used to complement other processes, such as the Collaborative Law Process, Arbitration, Med/Arb, and Mediation. If you are already using mediation services with another service provider, Meeting with Children can be added to your services if your mediator is agreeable to it.
Q: What can my child or children expect during their meetings with the mediator/child consultant?
A: Meeting with Children is specially designed to be playful and fun for children. During your child or children’s meetings with the mediator, they will do a variety of activities, such as drawing and card games. Your child will not be interviewed during these meetings, instead, they will play with the mediator and be encouraged to share their experiences with the mediator.
Q: What if my child or children don’t want to participate?
A: Meeting with Children is an entirely voluntary process. If a child or children do not want to participate, they will not be forced to do so. If a parent or parents would like the child or children to participate, they can periodically check in with their child or children to see if they change their mind. If the child or children do change their mind and want to participate in a meeting with the mediator, they are welcome to do so when they are ready.
Q: What if my ex doesn’t want our child or children to participate?
A: Meeting with Children is an entirely voluntary process. Both parents and the child or children need to be willing to participate. If one parent is not on board, the parent who is on board can provide the information to the parent who is still on the fence and periodically check in with that parent to see if they have a change of heart. If they do agree at any point, the mediator will be happy to meet with the child or children at that time.
Q: Do I receive a report at the end?
A: After the mediator has met with your child or children, they will meet with you and your ex to provide you with feedback from your child or children. The mediator will tell you what activities they conducted with the child or children and what the child’s or children’s responses were to those activities, however, you will not receive a written report. The information the mediator provides you is for you and your ex to consider and will help inform you as to what to omit or what to include in your parenting arrangement. Though the information the mediator will provide you will be valuable, at the end of the day it is up to you and your ex as to what stipulations you choose to put into your parenting agreement.
Thank you for reading!
We hope this helped you learn what Meeting with the Children is all about.
If you have any questions that were not answered here, please feel free to contact us for more information!