The Voice of the Child

Justine Soper

March 2021

Understandably when we deal with a separating or divorcing couple, the main concerns we hear first are about their children. For me, this is particularly why I established JLS’ primary ethos to be talking to every client about dispute resolution options.

Understandably when we deal with a separating or divorcing couple, the main concerns we hear first are about their children. For me, this is particularly why I established JLS’ primary ethos to be talking to every client about dispute resolution options.


The vast majority of children can, ultimately, accept and deal with their parents’ separation. What they cannot cope with and what causes the most harm to children, is conflict between their parents and within their home. Imagine then the effect of that conflict if it is ongoing for years.


Mediation is an excellent process for a separating couple to communicate with each other, and, if it’s possible for that process to begin at a relatively early stage of their separation, parents can establish their new co-parenting relationship quickly and cost effectively.


Within family mediation, a process has been established called “Child Inclusive Mediation” – or CIM – which enables the children’s voices to be heard and helps their parents with the decisions being made which affect them.


I am a CIM trained Mediator and able to meet with children as part of a mediation process.  I  would  stress that the children are not  being asked to make decisions. CIM is used to hear the child’s voice and give them the opportunity, if they wish to,  to  talk  to  someone  who is also talking  to  their  parents  but who is independent of them both. It is entirely up to the child if they wish to take up the invitation to meet with me.  


The option of CIM is discussed with the separating parents where at least one of the children is 10 years or older. With children younger than 10, they would come along with an older brother or sister – they are of course an equally important member of the family and should be given the same opportunity as their older sibling.


If all  the  children,  or  an  only  child, is younger than 10, whilst not automatically prevented from seeing them, I would consider very carefully whether to meet them and assess the particular circumstances of the family and of the individual child.


CIM is not something that happens during every mediation, but it is an option that should be considered, and I would explain its principles and parameters carefully to the couple alongside the practicalities of how it is arranged.


If the children do decide to meet with me, anything they would like to have passed on to their parents is carefully written down and I check with them  thoroughly  what  they want to say and how they want it put across to their parents.


Quite often, I would write up what the children would like to say on a flipchart during my meeting with them. That way, they see it clearly and can make sure it is definitely what they want to say.


For any further information about CIM, or mediation generally, please contact me, Justine, on 01252 726741 or justine@jlssolicitors.co.uk