The Mediation Agreement: What can be included in a finalised agreement between two parents?
A final written agreement approved by both parents and the mediator—called a mediation agreement—will ideally contain a necessary number of terms to ensure a concrete parenting arrangement. The number of terms vary from situation to situation. A comprehensive list is below.
- Decisions about the exercise of parental authority;
- Decisions relating to the residence of the children;
- Information on the exercise of joint parenting and the child’s education (for example, concerning school and health care);
- How visitation rights will be implemented;
- Organisation of educational, religious and cultural activities;
- Maintenance of regular contact between the parents as well as between the non-custodial parent and the children;
- Responsibility for the costs and modes of travel to visit the other parent;
- Contribution to the maintenance and education costs of the children;
- Homologation or notarisation of the agreement;
- The follow-up to the mediation (possibly including checking to ensure implementation of the agreement and/or the possibility of further mediation)
Cross-border family conflicts present legal complexity due to the international nature of the disputes. In order to unpack the legal nuance, we suggest you ask your legal adviser the following questions.
- Which laws apply to my situation?
- Are there international or regional conventions or a bilateral agreement between the two countries that are relevant to my case?
- What are my rights and duties according to the applicable provisions?
- Once the agreement that we reach during mediation is implemented, will that change the legal situation? (For example, how will changing the children’s country of residence, and thus bringing them under a different legal jurisdiction and laws, affect future decisions concerning the children?)
- Do I have to go to court or take urgent or interim measures to protect my rights before commencing mediation?
- Which country’s courts will be competent to hear and decide on my case?
- Which courts or authorities should be asked to validate the mediated agreement so that it will be enforceable in the countries concerned?
- Which court is competent to hear and decide my case if the mediation does not result in an agreement?
Additional Resources: Beyond a legal adviser, who else can help for cross-border family conflicts?
The following resources can provide information towards answering relevant legal questions. They can also help you locate a professional international family mediator.
- Central Authorities under the Hague Family Law Conventions, which are often established within one of the following ministries: Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Social Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs or Ministry of Health; contact details are available through the Hague Conference website. Central Authorities can tell you about the applicability of the conventions and provide general information on relevant instruments and the national law, as well as on how and where to get specialised legal advice;
- On this website, there is a Country info section where you can find international family mediation services and psycho-social support as well as your specific country Central Authority contact information.
- International Social Service General Secretariat (or ISS members);
- A central contact point for international family mediation (The list and contact details of existing “Central Contact Points for International Family Mediation”);
- Associations of family mediators;
- Specialised international family law offices;
- Consulates and embassies.
The mediator will address the needs and desires of both parents as well as the best interests of the child concerned. Before entering into a mediation session, be prepared to answer the following questions.
- Have you thought of a parenting arrangement for a situation where you are separating from your partner? Can you describe the arrangement?
- Do you think this arrangement has a chance of meeting the expectations of the other parent?
- Is the arrangement you have in mind practical for your child? Is it in their interest? (For example, can the child travel alone to the other parent, or will the other parent collect them, or will you drop the child off at the residence of the other parent?)
- Do you think your financial situation and the situation of the other parent are stable enough to maintain the arrangement that you have in mind in the long term?
- What possibilities are there for the children to maintain contact with the other parent between visits (for example, by telephone or the Internet)? Will that be done regularly?
- Do you think the arrangement you have in mind is feasible the other parent (for example, in relation to working schedules or the time difference between the two countries)?
- Do you think that the parent who lives in the other country has enough information on the status of his/her child to be able to have an active role in their education etc.?
Needs and Wellbeing of Children: Which issues are generally addressed in mediation?
The needs and wishes of children will be a central topic during mediation. Before entering a mediation session, be prepared to answer the following questions.
- Have you had the chance to speak with your children about your current situation?
- What do you think are your children’s feelings in relation to the conflict you are experiencing or the period of separation you are going through?
- From your observation, do your children understand that they are not obligated to choose sides in the conflict?
- What can you do to facilitate the relationship between your children and the other parent?
- What do you think are your children’s most important or specific needs (based on their hobbies, nature, health, etc.)?
- Do you sometimes struggle to meet the needs of your children?
- In the present arrangement, what works well and what doesn’t?
- From your observation, how do your children feel about having two homes?
- Can you think of ways to address your children’s needs together with the other parent?
- What do you think your children gain by maintaining a relationship with their other parent (and his/her family)?
- Who plays a significant role in your children’s lives? What can you do to maintain these ties?