When a marriage breaks down, it is often the children who suffer the most. Financial hardship, acrimonious court battles and on-going conflict over custody arrangements can have a lasting effect on the well-being of any children involved. It becomes especially difficult and complex when the parents have ties in different countries. In the EU, 140,000 international couples file for divorce every year.
International child abductions or parental abductions represent a growing number of missing children cases. These are cases where a child is taken to or kept in a country other than that of their normal residence by one parent against the will of the other parent or other person with parental authority. In 2017, the network of missing children hotlines reported that 23.2% of missing children cases were due to parental abductions. Of those cases, up to 55% were across national borders.
Children tell us that they find the court process particularly difficult and upsetting. We are now working to produce guidelines, tools and to deliver training for lawyers, judges, legal professionals and mediators to ensure that a child can have their say in the decision making process (whether in court or via mediation) in a way that does not impact their well-being negatively. We want to ensure that children will be properly communicated with and given understanding of the proceedings, outcomes and reasons for a court decision.