Should children have a voice in parenting plans involving them on divorce?

While parents ultimately make the final decisions about their future parenting plan, there has been a lot of research about how allowing children to express their opinions can be beneficial.

It is important to listen to children's feelings and concerns, but parents should avoid putting them in a position where they have to choose between parents.

Ultimately, maintaining open communication with children and being empathetic to their emotions can help create a more supportive environment during the divorce process, especially where children might be feeling caught in the middle of their parents.

Children should be informed about decisions ideally by both parents together. It is crucial to present the divorce as a joint decision without assigning blame, ensuring children understand they are loved and won't be placed in the middle. Encouraging children to express their views is important, but they should not be asked to choose sides or be involved in parental disputes.

Using age-appropriate language and reassuring children that the divorce is not their fault can help them cope with the situation.

Here is a link to a video which explains a little more about some of the thoughts children have when their parents separate - Voice of the Child of Divorce (youtube.com)

Ultimately, open communication, avoiding negative talk about the other parent, and providing emotional support are key when discussing divorce with children.

When creating a parenting plan, providing children with an opportunity to participate in discussions about the future parenting plan can help ensure that their needs and concerns are taken into account. Involving children in discussions about the parenting plan can help them feel heard and valued while ensuring that the plan meets their needs.

However, it is crucial to note that while it is okay to encourage children to communicate their views, they should not be asked to choose sides or make decisions that are beyond their capacity.

Involving children in the parenting plan process can have several benefits:

Structure and Stability: A parenting plan provides children with a sense of structure and stability by clearly outlining where they will be at any given time, especially crucial for younger children.

Minimising Arguments: A well-defined parenting plan helps reduce conflicts between parents.

Flexibility: While providing specifics, a parenting plan should also allow for flexibility to address unexpected events if both parents agree on changes.

Safety Concerns: Effective parenting plans address safety issues such as who can be around the children and how new partners are introduced, ensuring the child's well-being.

Child Raising Decisions: Parenting plans can cover decisions like schooling, social media use, and conflict resolution between parents, offering guidance on various aspects of important issues about how parents would like to raise their children.

Involving children in the process can help maintain healthy relationships with both parents.

How can children’s views be obtained? Child inclusive mediation (CIM) is one way and involves involving the child in the mediation process to express their views on parenting arrangements. This approach can help parents create a parenting plan by allowing the child's perspective to be considered, ensuring their needs and feelings are taken into account. The mediator, specially trained in CIM, facilitates communication between parents and the child, helping them reach agreements that prioritise the child's well-being

By including the child in the process, CIM can reduce negotiation time compared to court proceedings, where arrangements for children may take longer to address. Once an agreement is reached through CIM, a parenting plan can be drawn up.

This approach not only helps in creating a more tailored and child-focused parenting plan but also fosters improved relationships between parents during and after the separation.

There is an excellent guide for parents who are separating which can be found following this link. On page 39 there are some excellent links to helpful websites too that can be helpful for parents and children - Parenting-through-separation-guide.pdf(resolution.org.uk)

If we can help you create your parenting plan or explain more about the CIM process book a free call with us on our website – www.familymediationandmentoring.co.uk or email us at hello@familymandm.co.uk

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