The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
The reason for this requirement is that the Family Mediation Council (FMC) Code of Practice embodies Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) 1989, which gives all children the right to express their views in all matters affecting them in accordance with their age and maturity.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is the most complete statement of children’s rights ever produced and is the most widely-ratified international human rights treaty in history. The influence of the UNCRC can also be seen in the Children Act 1989.
In England and Wales, all children of 10 and over should have the opportunity to be consulted if they wish, when decisions and arrangements are being made that affect them. The Standards Framework produced by the Family Mediation Council/Family Mediation Standards Board goes on to say that younger children (including younger siblings and other children of the family) should not be excluded from having a similar opportunity for child inclusive mediation, since they are equally important members of the family.
The exceptions to this requirement include where there are safeguarding concerns or where a child has learning difficulties or mental illness which would make child inclusive mediation inappropriate.
Child Inclusive Mediation Principles:
The following principles apply to child inclusive mediation:
Voluntary participation: The child or young person participates voluntarily, with the informed consent and support of both parents (or those holding parental responsibility (PR)). Child-Inclusive Mediation cannot be ordered by the courts. Mediators must ensure that they have invited the child to participate and that it is for the child to choose whether they accept any invitation.
Confidentiality: Conversations with a child or young person in the course of mediation are confidential and are not reportable to the court or to third parties except a) where there are safeguarding/child protection concerns or b) where, in exceptional circumstances, the law (or a court) imposes an overriding obligation of disclosure upon the mediator or c) where the child or young person requests the mediator to share specific messages with their parents/carers. Mediators must ensure that they have explained confidentiality (including in relation to safeguarding from harm) in an age appropriate manner and have checked as far as is possible and practicable that the child has understood.
Impartiality and Neutrality as to outcome: The mediator must remain impartial in a meeting with a child or young person and must remain neutral as to the outcome of the mediation. The mediator does not represent the child or act as the child’s advocate.
Decisions remain with the child’s parents (or others holding PR): Children and young people may make requests and offer suggestions, but they are not asked, or given power, to make choices or decisions.
The family mediator is required to have extra training
The mediator is required to have additional training to be approved by the Family Mediation Council to facilitate these meetings. Within our team Ian Walker is so trained. We also have the ability to refer to external mediators or an external child consultant as required.
Ian Walker is trained by Resolution to meet with children as part of the mediation process.
He is a parent of four and has been a member of the Law Society Children Panel for over 24 years which means he is able to represent children in complex court proceedings.
This process can greatly assist parents to make the right decisions for their children.
This doesn’t mean the parents necessarily doing everything the child wants, but rather making informed decisions based on a child’s views and feelings.
The process helps parents,