|14 October 2019 – Today marks the beginning of International Mediation Week that aims to promote the importance of family mediation in parental abduction cases. Mediation remains a solution that is not sufficiently used in Europe although research by Missing Children Europe revealed that children want their parents to find solutions in these conflicts and believe mediation can be helpful. Today, children across Europe ask their parents to work towards agreements when their parents split up, through a Snapchat campaign.
In Europe, a continent without borders, international marriages are increasingly commonplace. In recent years, there were about 250 thousand marriages between a foreigner and a national in Europe and the proportion of mixed marriages on the total number of marriages was 15%. In some cases, the marriage falls apart and escalates into a family conflict. When a parent takes their child to another country without the permission of the other parent, we deal with international child abduction. In Europe, parental child abductions account for ¼ of the missing children cases reported to the European missing children hotlines.
Going to court seems to be the most obvious solution to resolve family conflicts, but this experience can be very traumatic for not only the parents, who often end up in a legal custody battle for years, but also the children, who are trapped in the middle of the conflict. Instead, international family mediation has proven to be a more efficient and less conflictual procedure. In mediation, trained professional engages directly with the parents to find a solution that reflects the specific family situation, is acceptable for both parties and places the needs and wellbeing of the children at the centre of the process.
”Children are convinced that their parents are best placed to take decisions on their future. They want their parents to find solutions together and believe their parents are capable. But sometimes, when conflicts are high, they might need some help to refocus on the best interest of their children. Then, mediation can be an excellent tool to help parents. Through this Snapchat filter, kids can give a clear message to their community, including family, to focus on their interest and move away from the underlying conflict.”
– Hilde Demarré, Policy Officer at Missing Children Europe
Mediation is voluntary and confidential. As a result, mediation agreements tend to work more in the long run because both parents find it as a fair solution. It is also more time and cost effective than court litigation.