Each child should be given the opportunity to be heard in all decisions affecting them, including international child abduction cases, because the outcomes will influence their lives. When it comes to cases of cross-border family disputes, amplifying children’s voices often lacks knowledge or vision relating to the best interest of the child.

Facts about the topic

Prior to the project research found that

  • Children complained about lack of understanding about the ongoing proceedings and their role within them.
  • Hearings were not age-appropriate (too childish for youngsters, too intimidating for children)
  • Children did not receive feedback on the actual result nor on the impact of their views and opinions on that decision.


The research conducted in the VOICE project showed that to ensure that children’s rights are respected in procedures that affect them, there is still a lot to be done in Europe. There is still no coherence in the way the concept in itself is interpreted and there are great differences between member states.


In 2018 the VOICE project’s partners conducted:

  • Psychological research: Measuring the well-being of families who are faced with an international child abduction and identifying the factors that influence this wellbeing.


  • Focus groups with youngsters: Exploring the views of youngsters from Belgium and obtaining their rights as to how children and young people in international child abduction proceedings should receive support from judges and other professionals.


  • Legal research: The research investigated 24 youngsters from Belgium exploring their views to obtain their insight as to how children and young people in international child abduction proceedings should receive support from judges and other professionals.

Summary of the psychological research results – Download

Full psychological research report – Download

Summary of the legal research results – Download

Full case law results – Download


Full focus group research report – Download

Training for professionals on the child in international child abduction cases (presentation) – Download

Position Paper on the voice of the child in cases of international child abduction – Download

Contact person

Aagje Ieven

Secretary-General and contact point for International Abduction & Cross Border Mediation

Contact us


“The Voice project is funded by the European Union’s Justice Programme (2014-2020). The content of this website represents the views of the author only and is his/her sole responsibility. The European Commission does not accept any responsibility for use that may be made of the information it contains.”

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