Cross-Border Family Mediators is a network that brings together family mediators specifically trained to deal with cross-border family conflicts.
In the EU approximately 130.,000 international couples file for divorce annually. In 2015, 37% of cases dealt with by European hotlines for missing children were parental child abductions.
The network was launched in 2012 by the Belgian NGO Child Focus and the German NGO MiKK - Mediation bei Internationalen Kindschaftskonflikten with the support of the Dutch Center for International Child Abduction. The project was co-funded by the Justice Programme of the European Commission. The cross-border family mediation training is based on a mediation model, developed in cooperation with the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium.Coordination of the network was transferred to Missing Children Europe in 2014.
The aim of Cross-Border Family Mediators is to prevent, support and protect children from harm related to cross-border family disputes, in particular in cases of international parental child abductions.
Cross-Border Family Mediators is guided by the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, in particular Article 3 on the best interest of the child and Article. 9 on the right to contact with both parents.
The mediation model, advocated and employed by the network and its members is based on the Wroclaw Declaration of 2007. It involves a team of two specially qualified co-mediators, normally a man and a woman, one with a legal, the other with a psychosocial background, who together also reflect the cultural and linguistic backgrounds of the conflictual parents. Experience has shown that when the co-mediators reflect the couple’s cultural backgrounds and speak their languages, the parents feel innately understood and are more likely to reach a joint solution. A further requirement in abduction proceedings is the mediators’ ability and willingness to take on cases at short notice and to travel to another city or country.
The network regulates the quality of its members through initial and ongoing training, supervision and monitoring.
In the coming years, Cross-Border Family Mediators will further embed the work of the network in existing systems targeting cross-border child disappearances and support the development of effective EU policies on mediation
Additionally, the network will continue to raise awareness of mediation as a way to resolve cross-border family conflicts.
Through these objectives, the network aims to contribute to the development of integrated child protection systems, where the different stakeholders work together to develop a net of safety and protection for all children.