Do the Children Participate in Mediation?
The mediation process is created by the mediator together with the parties. When discussing custody and parenting issues, from time to time spouses may ask that children participate in the mediation. However, it is often not in the best interests of the children to be involved in adult decisions in the mediation setting. It is usually better for the adults alone to discuss and resolve custody and parenting issues.
Children are often negatively impacted during divorce and many are not emotionally ready to be involved in these decisions. In fact, some children may be harmed even by being asked who they want to live with or what outcome they want. Being involved in the process can result in feelings of guilt, confusion, and even anger for fear of making the “wrong” choice. More importantly, some children simply may not understand or appreciate what is in their best interests; but rather they may make decisions based on immediate desires. Sometimes what they want “right now” is not what is in their longer-term best interests.
However, there are situations involving older children, depending on age and maturity, where a court will listen to and consider their preferences. These preferences may be considered by the parents and discussed in mediation. In mediation, the parents enter into an agreement and make the important decisions without the children present.