Can a Mediator Interview a Child?
Mediation is a process in which a neutral third party, known as a mediator, assists parents in reaching an agreement on issues related to child custody, visitation, and other aspects of co-parenting. In some cases, mediators may choose to interview children as part of the mediation process. However, whether a mediator can or should interview a child depends on the mediator's qualifications, the specific circumstances, and the parties involved.
Things to consider when involving a child in the mediation process:
Mediation Experience and Procedures
1. **Mediator Qualifications**: Mediators who are trained and experienced in child custody and family mediation may have the skills and knowledge to interview children effectively and in a child-friendly manner.
2. **Consent of the Parties**: Both parents generally need to consent to the mediator interviewing the child. If one parent is opposed to the child being interviewed by the mediator, the mediator may not proceed with the interview.
Child's Developmental Stage & Purpose
3. **Child's Age and Maturity**: The child's age and maturity are important factors. Mediators are more likely to interview older and more mature children who can express their wishes and preferences effectively.
4. **Reason for the Interview**: Knowing the reason for the interview is also important. Mediators may interview a child to better understand the child's perspective, needs, and concerns. The information gathered in the interview can then be used to help the parents reach a mutually acceptable agreement.
Sharing of Information Obtained During Child Interview
5. **Confidentiality and Privacy**: Mediators should ensure that the child's privacy and confidentiality are respected. The child should feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings with the mediator.
6. **Reporting to the Parents**: Mediators typically share the information gathered during the child's interview with the parents, which can facilitate discussion and negotiation.
Neutral Interview of Child
7. **Mediator Neutrality**: It's essential for the mediator to remain neutral and not advocate for one parent's position over the other. The mediator's role is to facilitate communication and help parents reach an agreement.
Mediator interviews with children can be a valuable tool in reaching a child-focused and tailored parenting plan. However, it should be handled with sensitivity and in adherence to ethical and legal guidelines. If you are involved in mediation, you can discuss the possibility of a child interview with the mediator and ensure that it aligns with the specific requirements and dynamics of your case. Contact us to learn more about how a child interview can help your family move forward in mediation.