Mediation, an effective solution in cross-border child abductions

Mediation often proves very effective in resolving cases of cross-border parental abductions, which account for more than one-fifth of cases treated by Missing Children Europe, the organization said on Thursday. On the occasion of International Mediation Week, Missing Children Europe - the European federation for missing and sexually exploited children - is placing the spotlight on this possibility which, it says, is not known nor used enough.

The increase in transnational marriages, due partly to migration, comes with its share of tragic events in cases of bitter divorces, and these sometimes take the form of child abductions. Cross-border abductions occur when a parent decides to travel abroad with his/her child without the consent of the other parent. Such cases make up one out of every five handled by Missing Children Europe, according to federation, which represents 31 organisations in 27 European countries.

Most of the time these are intra-European kidnappings and, in such cases, 75% of family mediation cases conducted in Europe result in at least a partial agreement.

"Going to court seems to be the most obvious solution to resolve these family conflicts, but this experience can be very traumatic for the child who is caught in the middle, and for the parents, who often end up in a legal custody battle for years,” the federation stated.

On the other hand, cross-border family mediation conducted by professionals can lead to “solutions acceptable for both parties” and agreements that are often “more solid” because they result from a “voluntary approach”, according to family mediation expert Hilde Demarré, policy officer at Missing Children Europe.

The Brussels Times

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