First of all, perhaps you’re wondering what a child facilitator is, and how it relates to mediation. In the world of law, a child facilitator works with children who have gotten caught up in their parents’ divorce, who have been hurt or abused by their families, or anything that may have happened because of their families. Children cannot represent themselves, no matter how close they are to being a legal adult, and so a child facilitator represents the needs and wants of the child.
What does that have to do with mediation? Well, just as mediators can work with families on divorce or strengthening their marriage, they can also work with children. It can be a part of divorce mediation — maybe the child has a preference about which parent they want to live with, or they want to establish visitation. It doesn’t have to be an almost adult child either; even younger children deserve to be part of a conversation that impacts their future. Mediators help everyone communicate openly, including children.
What do you need to look for in a child facilitator, then?
They don’t need to be currently practicing attorneys, though it’s a good idea for them to be familiar with the different types of family law. While mediators may specialize in certain areas, oftentimes they need to be able to switch between different clients and their needs. Therefore, you want one who is familiar with different types of mediating, and the skills required. It’s also a good idea to let your child meet them, before you fully commit. If your child is uncomfortable or doesn’t like them, then they won’t be able to talk to them. When you seek mediation, you’re looking for a calm, peaceful resolution where everything is out in the open — and to do that, everyone in the room needs to be able to feel comfortable with each other.
You want to make sure that their license is legitimate, of course, and you want to hear their history working with children. That’s just as important, too, but what you must keep in mind is your children. They’re the reason you’re looking for this particular job, after all, so if they’re old enough to express their opinion about someone, then they’re old enough for you to listen to them.
Like any other mediation, working with a child facilitator works best when everyone in the room wants to be there and has committed to working together on a plan that benefits everyone.