Mediation Week 2021: Benefits of mediation as an alternative to court proceedings in family conflicts

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The third week of October marks International Mediation Week, where organisations in the United States and across Europe join forces to raise awareness about mediation and its advantages to resolving conflicts.

Missing Children Europe promotes mediation as a tool to prevent and mitigate the consequences of international child abductions and to acknowledge the voices and wellbeing of both parents and children in divorce proceedings.  This year Missing Children Europe and its members will highlight the advantages of mediation, particularly in an international parental conflict case involving children. Mediation is a solution that significantly reduces the risk of children being exposed to negative consequences when their parent’s separate.

Families in conflict are considered as particularly vulnerable. People who decide to separate are faced with very difficult decisions related to different areas of daily life, such as joint finances (maintenance, loans and credits, savings), co-ownership (home furnishings, car and mortgage), or childcare. Usually, these conflicts are fuelled by very strong emotions, of which the children are unwitting exposed to.

Furthermore, the child often becomes an object of manipulation used by one parent against the other, thus the child loses their sense of security.

In the case of international couples, in particular, the child suffers the additional stress of being uncertain about the country in which they will live, following the separation of their parents. The child is often confronted with various challenges that come with moving to a foreign country such as, a new language, a different culture and environment.

Other factors to consider are the weakening, or even permanent rupture of ties with relatives. And going to court does not help to reduce these risks. On the contrary, depending on the country, court proceedings can be detrimental to the child because a conflict can drag on for years due to lengthy court proceedings, protractedness, lack of good practice in dealing with children and poor enforcement of court decisions.

An extreme example of escalating conflict is in the case of a parental abduction, when one parent takes a child to another country or keeps the child there without the knowledge or consent of the other parent.

However, this conflict can be resolved before it escalates – with the help of family mediation.  With the help of an experienced mediator, there can be an impartial approach to the dispute and a reached agreement that is convenient for all participants – including the children.

Mediation is a process that aims at reconciling the parties and ending the conflict. Family Mediators are competent professionals who help family members in conflict identify disputed issues to work out a compromise solution. Unlike lawyers who represent parties in court disputes, a mediator is impartial. In their presence, parents are treated as equals and have the opportunity to express their needs in an atmosphere of mutual respect, thus respecting their right to be heard.

If you are looking for a family mediator, please visit https://crossbordermediator.eu/.

For more information about the international child abductions please visit https://missingchildreneurope.eu/international-child-abduction/.