Information for parents

Dear Parents,

You are taking part in proceedings under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (HCA) or the Brussels IIa Regulation. These guidelines are aimed at determining whether your joint child will return to his or her home country. The HCA, however, does not question which arrangement would be better for the child’s welfare or which parent the child would prefer to live with; instead, the subject of the proceedings is solely the question of the child’s possible repatriation.

We would like to encourage both of you as parents to negotiate directly with each other about the principal question of your child’s repatriation. At this time it would also be beneficial to clarify if you can come to an agreement which could also settle any further issues concerning your joint child. Since the court is authorized to carry out expedited HCA proceedings only in regard to the repatriation question, and not concerning any further issues related to you and your future, we would like to point out the possibility of conducting mediation parallel to the HCA court proceedings.

The actual mediation is conducted by both a male and a female mediator, one of whom has a legal and the other a psychosocial or education background. Furthermore the mediators come from the same countries as the parents and therefore share with them the same cultural and linguistic backgrounds. The mediators working on this project are qualified not only by their training and experience, but also by special further training on the specific circumstances surrounding abduction proceedings. Mediation is confidential and not public.

During the mediation proceedings, you can and should continue to consult with your legal counsel.

As you may know, mediation is a process during which both parents, assisted by two mediators, independently solve conflicts concerning their joint child. The mediators create a constructive atmosphere for discussions and ensure fair dealings between both parents. The mediators are not entitled to make any decisions; instead, they confine themselves to assisting the parties in working out for themselves a sensible solution to their problems. More specifically, the mediation can address not only the child’s primary residence, but also the child’s contact with both parents, visitation arrangements, agreements concerning the child’s maintenance, school education, bi-cultural upbringing, necessary arrangements for financial support etc. You both decide which topics you want to address together.

The fact that both parents are prepared to enter into mediation proceedings does not imply the approval of the abduction by the parent left behind. This point will be made expressly in the initial agreement that you both will sign.

The costs of the mediation proceedings, including the participants’ and mediators’ travel and accommodation expenses, are borne by the parents. Please note that the costs for such a mediation are generally much lower than the costs for a court proceeding and that you can work out regulations for all relevant topics at the same time so that further court proceedings are unnecessary. If you have questions regarding the potential costs, please contact us.

In the framework of the mediation proceedings, it is important to ensure the availability of the attorneys by phone or otherwise, so that both of you may obtain advice throughout the on-going mediation proceedings.

It is desirable to have the results of the mediation recorded before the court to make them binding; in individual cases, the agreement may have to be safeguarded in the other country as well.

In the interest of your child, we ask you to inform yourselves about the possibilities and limitations of a mediation at no cost or obligation. The broad experience of the last years has shown that parents who use mediation experience less conflict with one another over the long term. They also have their own needs and interests as well as those of the other parent in view and are conscious of having discussed and solved the questions concerning themselves and their children, and have thus acted in the lasting best interest of their children.

If you have questions about mediation please contact us.