If your parents split up, you have the right to have a say in the arrangements they make for you. It’s in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (article 12).
Some parents work things out by talking with their children and agreeing things together, but it’s much more difficult for you when parents disagree or can’t speak to each other.
Many family mediators are trained and experienced in meeting with young people and children, as well as mediating between parents.
Talking with a family mediator – what is it like?
Usually the young person has a conversation on their own with the mediator, without parents present.
Young people are not asked to make choices or take responsibility for decisions and the conversation is confidential – the mediator does not make reports to the court like a social worker and only passes on the messages, wishes or suggestions to parents that the young person asks them to.
Normally, the parents need to be taking part in mediation and they need to give their consent to the mediator having a separate, confidential conversation with their child or children.
Feedback from young people shows they found it very helpful to meet with the mediator who knows both their parents and who can help explain things to parents. Young people are in the middle and so is the mediator! Parents say they found it very helpful to understand better how their children feel and what would help to make things work better for them. Often, parents take their children’s ideas on board and things get settled by agreement without court proceedings, or if court proceedings are already going on, they may be brought to an end by consent.
This video shows an interesting example of one way that mediation involving young people can work. The two girls (who are actors, in fact) said they wanted to talk with their parents with the mediator’s help. More often the mediator passes on a young person’s message or proposal to parents without the young person being present. The parents have already agreed that they will not press the young person to tell them more about what they said to the mediator, nor get angry with them about it. Usually, thankfully, it is the opposite – the whole family say they are communicating more easily and that everyone is feeling relieved.
To find a family mediator near you, please visit https://www.familymediationcouncil.org.uk/find-local-mediator/