Child-inclusive Mediation | A case study in success

A boy hugging a girl

How Child-Inclusive Mediation brought resolution for Lucy, Mark, Tim, and Rose

When Lucy and Mark decided to end their relationship, they found themselves in a deadlock over managing how their new family would work. Despite their deep love for their children, five-year-old Tim and eleven-year-old Rose, conflicting viewpoints meant they hadn’t been able to reach an agreement in traditional mediation.

Jennifer, their mediator, suggested an alternative: child-inclusive mediation. Lucy and Mark agreed to introduce Tim and Rose to a Child Consultant, Leanne, a highly trained professional who works with Untying the Knot and specialises in giving children a safe space to express their feelings and thoughts about their changing family circumstances.

Leanne met Tim and Rose individually, creating a comforting and non-threatening environment for each child. Leanne encouraged Tim to express his feelings through art and play. This revealed his worry about the prospect of changing schools and losing his best friend. Rose, being older, shared her feelings through conversation. She talked about her fear of losing her family and about missing out on important events to her like opening her presents from Santa together on Christmas morning.  She was worried about how Christmas would be shared.

Leanne built a trusting relationship with the children, allowing her to gather honest and clear insights into their worries and hopes.

When Leanne and Jennifer met with Mark and Lucy for child-inclusive mediation, Leanne shared the children’s feelings and needs.  For those things that Tim and Rose weren’t comfortable to have shared directly, she did so in a non-identifying, generalised way.

During the child-inclusive mediation, Lucy and Mark were offered a fresh perspective. They were both taken aback to discover Tim’s concerns about changing schools and Rose’s anxiety over how Christmas would be celebrated. This insight shifted their focus from what they couldn’t agree about,  to the needs of their children. They realised that the voices they needed to hear were those of their children.

Understanding the depth of their children’s feelings, Lucy and Mark guided by Jennifer, the mediator, and armed with the insights provided by Leanne, approached the discussions from a new perspective: How can we formulate an agreement that respects and addresses the concerns of Tim and Rose?

By the end of the day, Lucy and Mark had crafted a parenting plan that prioritised their children’s needs. They agreed that Lucy would move to a nearby neighbourhood, ensuring Tim could stay at his current school. They also agreed to preserve significant family traditions, providing reassurance to Rose that despite the changes, they would still open Santa presents together.

The child-inclusive mediation process saved Lucy and Mark from a potentially contentious court battle. Instead, they constructed a parenting agreement that they both believed served the best interests of their children.

Lucy and Mark found that by truly listening to their children’s voices, through Leanne,  they were able to come up with solutions. By focusing on their children’s emotional well-being and long-term needs, they were able to collaboratively shape a post-separation parenting agreement.

This case study, whilst fictitious, is an example of the work that Jennifer and Leanne do and highlights the powerful impact and effectiveness of child-inclusive mediation. By placing the voices and needs of children at the heart of the process, families can navigate past contentious disputes and work towards resolutions that genuinely serve the children’s best interests.

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