The Importance Of The Child’s Voice In Family Cases
I have been a mediator for 6 years and am trained to consult directly with children in mediation. I have always acknowledged the importance of parents listening to and taking account of children’s views when discussing arrangements for their children or finances. I recently had the privilege to listen to a young lady called Katie who spoke on behalf of the Family Justice Young People’s Board. Katie made a lasting impression as she described how no one listened to her at the time of her parents’ divorce, not just once but on many occasions. This resulted in Katie’s relationship with her mother breaking down. Katie was forced to participate in visits where she was subjected to emotional abuse. As a young woman Katie still cannot reconcile why she was not listened to when she and her sister expressed very differing views about how they wanted to spend time with their parents, or how it was presumed her Father was to blame for the poor quality of contact with her Mother.
It is important to invest time in listening to young people who want to express their views, and to take account of those views in the decision-making process. Katie has used her experiences to bring about change and I will use her story to put child inclusive mediation at the forefront of my mediation practice.
Tina Day can be contacted on 01243 831004 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Further information about FJYPB can be found at https://www.cafcass.gov.uk/family-justice-young-peoples-board/George Ide