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

Somerset woman: Domestic abuse story is a lesson

A Somerset woman has told of the abuse she suffered at the hands of her partner, after he was found guilty of assaulting her. The woman has publicised her story as a warning to others not to ignore ‘red flags’ in relationships.

Read more
No-fault divorce and mediation: taking the pain out of divorce

It goes without saying that divorce can be a painful experience. Much of that pain can be caused by conflict during the process, leading to stressful contested court proceedings. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Read more
Even if you have agreed your divorce settlement, you still need a court order

With the advent of online divorce more and more people are doing their own divorce, especially since no-fault divorce has made the process considerably simpler. And having dealt with the divorce themselves, many are tempted to go one step

Read more
No-fault divorce is great, but don’t forget the financial settlement

It is almost universally agreed that the introduction of no-fault divorce has been a good thing. Gone are the days when someone wanting a divorce has had to lay the blame for the breakdown of the marriage upon their spouse.

Read more
Marriage decline shows importance of cohabitants knowing their rights

On the 19th May the Office for National Statistics (‘ONS’) published its latest annual figures for the number of marriages that took place in England and Wales, for the year 2019. The figures show a continuing decline in marriage rates.

Read more
Dorset council exposed woman to risk of abuse from father

When a local authority has concerns over the welfare of a child it will usually assign a social worker to get in touch with the family and investigate the matter. When this happens, it is of course essential that the parents

Read more
Johnny Depp v Amber Heard: playing out your private life in public

For the last month the world has eagerly watched the Johnny Depp v Amber Heard defamation trial, as the two actors have exchanged lurid alleged details of their private lives. Seeing two Hollywood stars fighting out such a battle in court

Read more
Should Olivia Wilde have been served with child custody papers whilst on stage?

When the actress Olivia Wilde was recently served with child custody papers whilst on stage it caused something of a sensation. Surely, said many, she should not have been served publicly, whilst she was working?

Read more
How Exeter City’s persistence is a lesson for all during family court proceedings.

Many congratulations to Exeter City F.C, who last week secured automatic promotion from League Two. And the Grecians’ success came after five years of promotion near-misses, including being beaten in the final of the play-off in 2017, 2018

Read more
We are Recruiting x 3; Marketing Assistant, PA, Paralegal

We are Recruiting x 3; Marketing Assistant, PA, Paralegal The past 2 years have seen us achieve significant growth and we have firmly established ourselves as a leading regional family law solicitors practice. This year we will be joined by some additional team members who will further strengthen our team. First of these is Emma […]

Read more
Somerset Council failed to comply with adoption requirements

Somerset Council failed to comply with adoption requirements A recent High Court case has highlighted serious failures on the part of Somerset County Council to comply with the legal requirements when it has been acting as an adoption agency. Adoption agencies are organisations that work with prospective parents and children to assess, match, arrange and […]

Read more
Do I have to attend a MIAM (Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting)?

Do I have to attend a MIAM (Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting)? Anyone wishing to apply to the court about a family matter must first attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (commonly known by the acronym ‘MIAM’), unless an exemption applies. As the name suggests, the purpose of the MIAM is to provide the […]

Read more