Ian Walker

Ian Walker – Founder/ Director/ Solicitor/ Mediator/ Arbitrator

When we ask children what they want

As parents we think we know what is best for our children and we do our best to do the best we can for them. In a couple we discuss and make decisions together.

When parents separate it can be difficult to work together.

Different ideas about what is best for their children can become more pronounced.

Children can also say to each parent what they think the parent wants them to say. This can make disputes worse because both parents believe that they are doing what their child wants.

Finding out the views of their children can help parents make good decisions in mediation. Child Inclusive Mediation is very much to be encouraged.

Child Inclusive Family Mediation

legal 500 leading firm logoChild-Inclusive Mediation (CIM) provides opportunities for children and young people to have their voices heard directly during the process of mediation.

This is to help children feel respected and listened to and, at their request, to assist parents or carers to receive, understand and take account of their messages regarding decisions and arrangements for and about them which will be made by their parents. Hearing the voices of their children should help parents make better decisions.

All family mediators are expected to explain to parents/carers at the mediation initial information and assessment meetings, that children and young people aged 10 and above should be offered the opportunity to have a conversation with a professionally qualified mediator or child consultant. This expectation is ongoing – so even if the parents decline to proceed with Child Inclusive Mediation at the outset, the mediator should still remind them of the benefits subsequently.

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.

Exceptions

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,

Latest News

Parental alienation in the news again

The difficult subject of parental alienation has been back in the news this week, featuring both in a television documentary and a national newspaper opinion piece.

Read more
Financial remedies: don’t help yourself to your spouse’s documents

It is often the case that when someone is getting divorced, or when their marriage is breaking down, they still have access to their spouse’s private financial documents, whether physical documents, or documents held on a computer.

Read more
Will family mediation become mandatory?

Mediation is a form of dispute resolution, alternative to court proceedings (such alternatives to court are known as ‘alternative dispute resolution’ or ADR). Mediation consists of the parties meeting with a trained mediator, who will help

Read more
The Resolutions Model: getting a child back from care

The Resolutions Model is the name given to an arrangement whereby a child may be returned to their parent, despite the fact that the parent denies causing an injury to the child or its sibling.

Read more
Domestic Abuse Commissioner calls for more support for abuse victims

A new report has revealed that 89 per cent of domestic abuse survivors don’t get any support when they go through the family courts. The report was prepared by SafeLives, a UK-wide charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse, and commission

Read more
Welcome Paul Sykes – Leading Children Law Solicitor

Paul is one of the Leading Children Law Solicitor in the South West and has spent his entire legal career with Somerset based solicitors. Paul is particularly well known and respected by all family law practitioners in Somerset.

Read more
We are recruiting – Business Development Manager/ Marketing Manager/ (Full Time) – Fantastic Opportunity

Despite the very significant challenges in the wider world, the last 18 months have seen us grow from being a small to medium size legal practice. In this time we have significantly strengthened our legal team and turnover has doubled.

Read more
A further illustration of the consequences of lying to the court

It is a common complaint in family proceedings, especially financial remedy cases sorting out finances on divorce, that the other party has ‘got away’ with lying to the court. It is true that the family court will not always take action in

Read more
Important changes to child maintenance system proposed

The payment of child maintenance is one of the biggest issues of contention between separated parents, affecting huge numbers of children. Over the years the government has made various attempts to improve and perfect the child maintenance

Read more
Courts Service sets out role of remote hearings

HM Courts & Tribunals Service (‘HMCTS’), which is responsible for the administration of criminal, civil and family courts and tribunals in England and Wales, has given an indication of the role of remote court hearings

Read more
No-fault divorce delayed until 2022

The Government has announced that the new system of no-fault divorce, which it had previously indicated would come into force in the autumn, will not now do so until spring next year.

Read more
Large increase in new-born babies subject to care proceedings

New research has found that there has been a large increase in the number of new-born babies (i.e. babies under 2 weeks old) in England and Wales subject to care proceedings.

Read more