Today marks the beginning of International Mediation Week which aims to promote the importance of family mediation in parental abduction cases. Despite its success rate, mediation remains a solution that is not sufficiently used in Europe. This week, Missing Children Europe and its members join efforts to raise awareness of the tools and resources available to ensure the best interest of the child in International Child Abduction (ICA) cases and discuss the role of the pre-mediation bureaus via Twitter Space. 

In Europe, a continent without borders marked by significant migration flows, international marriages are increasingly commonplace. In 2020 there were 1,4 million marriages in the EU, of which 1 in 12 were mixed marriages. Of these, 0.8 million couples file for divorce annually. 

International Child Abductions occur frequently in the EU. With over 1100 parental abduction cases reported to the European 116000 hotlines only last year, they make up 26% of all missing children cases dealt with by the hotlines. Abduction has an immense psychological and emotional impact on all children involved, which can be further exacerbated by a slow and complicated judicial process due to a lack of adequate cooperation among Central Authorities, legal practitioners and family mediators. 

International family mediation has proven to be an alternative to legal divorce proceedings that is more efficient and less conflictual, and that can thus prevent child abduction by a parent. In mediation, trained professionals engage 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 child at the centre of the process. 

“By using family mediation, all parties can work together to address the best interests of the child and establish a new path for the future where the previous relationship has ended but a new, more effective one can continue.” – Aagje Ieven, Secretary General of Missing Children Europe and coordinator of the Cross Border Family Mediators Network

Parents and professionals confronted with international child abductions can learn more about the topic and the resources available here.

Join Twitter Space “Pre-mediation bureaus: What are they and why they are important?” (11 October 2022, 12:00 CET)

About Missing Children Europe

Missing Children Europe is the European federation for missing and sexually exploited children, representing 31 organisations from 26 European countries. We provide the link between research, policies and organisations on the ground to protect children from any kind of violence, abuse, or neglect that is caused by or results from them going missing. 

Missing Children Europe coordinates the Cross-Border Family Mediators network that consists of ca. 200 trained family mediators who help prevent and resolve cross-border family conflicts including parental abduction. Find out more about cross-border family mediation here.