Monday marked the beginning of International Mediation Week which aims to promote the importance of family mediation in parental abduction cases, Hope For Children CRC Policy Centre (HFC) announced.
Despite its success rate, mediation remains a solution that is not sufficiently used in Europe, the NGO said.
In Cyprus, the mediation service for cases of family conflicts is provided by HFC and the Association for the Prevention and Handling of Violence in the Family (Spavo) in the context of the operation of the European Hotline for Missing Children 116 000 which the two organizations undertook as a consortium. The mediation service in Cyprus is provided by trained professionals of HFC and Spavo free of charge.
HFC said that in Europe, a continent without borders marked by significant migration flows, international marriages were increasingly commonplace.
About 180 000 transnational marriages take place in Europe each year. In some cases, the marriage falls apart and escalates into a family conflict.
In Europe, parental abductions account for 23 per cent of missing children cases reported to the European missing children hotlines.
“Going to court seems to be the most obvious solution to resolve these family conflicts, but this experience can be very traumatic for the child who is caught in the middle, and for the parents, who often end up in a legal custody battle for years,” HFC said.
It said international family mediation had proven to be a more efficient and less conflictual procedure. 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 children at the centre of the process.
Hilde Demarré, Policy officer at Missing Children Europe, who is also a trained family mediator, has witnessed the benefits of mediation for the affected children first-hand. “Mediation is always voluntary and confidential. As a result, mediation agreements tend to work more in the long run because both parents find it a fair solution. Research shows that the wellbeing of a child is higher when both parents believe the solution is fair,” she said.
It is also a more efficient practice since 75 per cent of the family mediation cases in Europe have reached a partial or full mediation agreement.
A study by the European Parliament from 2014 also found that family mediation can save significant time and money in resolving parental abduction cases compared to other procedures. However, despite the benefits, mediation remains relatively unknown to the public, HFC said.
HFC and Spavo, Missing Children Europe, the national associations supporting missing children and networks of mediators are launching various initiatives for Mediation Week which aims to promote mediation to all stakeholders concerned, including parents, mediators themselves, but also professionals such as lawyers, so that it finally receives the same awareness and promotion by law bodies as one of the best solutions to ensure the wellbeing of the child.
For more information about the mediation service in Cyprus contact the Missing Children Hotline 116 000.
Cross-border family mediation: www.crossbordermediator.eu.
What is mediation and how does it work?