Reasons for Choosing International Family Mediation

Guide sections

About International Family Mediation icon
Section 1: About International Family Mediation

• What is International Family Mediation?
• Can a mediator decide who is right or wrong?
• Is what I tell the mediator kept confidential?
• How much does mediation cost? Who pays the fees?
• My ex refuses to go to mediation. Is mediation possible?

For Which Conflict and When Mediation Can Be Used icon
Section 2: For Which Conflict and When Mediation Can Be Used

• What kind of problems can mediation help me to resolve?
• Do courts and administrative authorities know about mediation?
• Can I call in mediation services after a court judgment?
• I do not have access to my children anymore. Can mediation help me?

Reasons for Choosing International Family Mediation icon
Section 3: Reasons for Choosing International Family Mediation

• What are the advantages of going for mediation?
• Why should I go for mediation if we already have lawyers who are helping us?
• My ex does not accept or understand how things happen in my culture...
• I am worried that my partner might take our children abroad and not bring them back. Can mediation help?
• How can we talk to each other in mediation sessions if we cannot do so outside them?

How International Family Mediation Is Carried Out icon
Section 4: How International Family Mediation Is Carried Out

• How can the mediation be carried out if we do not live in the same place?
• Can my children participate in the mediation?
• Can I have a discussion with the mediator alone?
• Can I bring a friend or someone to help me in the mediation?
• Can we have two mediators? 

International Family Mediation and the Law icon
Section 5: International Family Mediation and the Law

• Will my rights be respected during mediation?
• Does an agreement resulting from mediation have legal standing?
• What happens if mediation does not result in anything concrete?
• Will the mediated agreement have legal effect in another country?
• Do we have to suspend the legal proceedings in order to go for mediation?
• Will a mediator also give legal advice?

Wrongful Removal or Non-return of a Child icon
Section 6: Wrongful Removal or Non-return of a Child

• I retained my children in my home country and I’m afraid to go back. What can I do?
• How can mediation help me get my child back?
• Is it ever too late for mediation?
• I have the impression that mediation is weaker than a judicial procedure…
• Will mediation work if the contact between myself and the children has been completely cut off?
• My ex has taken the children and refuses to communicate. How can the mediator reconnect us?

The parties can play an active role

Mediation provides an opportunity for all the parties in a conflict to set out their points of view and voice their wishes and needs. It gives them an opportunity to take control of the process of separation instead of being ruled by the process itself.

In mediation, the participants agree to listen to each other’s views with the support of a third party, which creates a foundation for discussion on an equal basis and can help avoid escalation of the conflict.

Mediation speeds up proceedings and is cost-effective

International family disputes are often complex due to the interplay of different legal systems. A complex legal situation tends to make judicial proceedings lengthy and costly. There is also a risk that adversarial proceedings brought in different countries might give rise to contradictory decisions which, in the worst case, could lead to a stalemate in the case. As a complement to legal proceedings, mediation can help avoid these complexities by enabling the parties to a conflict to arrive at a legally acceptable agreement in a few sessions. Less time spent on a court case would, of course, also mean lower legal fees for the participants.

In countries that are not party to international treaties on family law, the content of a mediated agreement on custody and contact and other related matters can nonetheless be recognised and enforced with the help of relevant legal instruments.

“We agreed that the children would join me here when they were old enough to go to secondary school. I think I would not have reached this far if I had continued along the path of legal proceedings against my ex-wife.”

 A father

Mediation is flexible and adaptable to each situation

Family mediation permits legal questions to be tackled within the broader perspective of the daily life of the people in conflict.

It allows all concerns that are important to the participants to be included in the discussions, and may also permit the inclusion of children, or of persons who are important in the lives of the children and the parents, in the process. For example, it can give a voice to people from the familial, religious or social environment who play a significant role in the family life.

Mediation can provide a realistic perspective of the future

In creating a space where the expression of anxieties, worries and doubts of each participant are facilitated, family mediation provides both parties with an opportunity to define and organise the exercise of joint parenting. Proposed solutions can then be tested and modified if necessary.

The process is respectful of the availabilities and capabilities of both parents, while also respecting the right of the child to developmental security and to maintaining links with both parents where that is both safe and possible.

Geographic distance between two parents makes communication and the organisation of family life more difficult, and mediation offers parents time to discuss in detail all the different options for organisation of parental responsibilities such as how to maintain and nurture cross-border parent-child contact.

“We have never had problems respecting the arrangement reached in mediation as no one imposed it on us. We discussed it in great detail and it corresponds to the reality of our financial and geographic situation.”

 A mother

Mediation respects cultural differences within a family

Families that undergo cross-border conflicts are often multilingual and multicultural. Cultural differences can play a large role in the nature of a conflict, particularly around questions relating to the children. Parents naturally want their children to follow their own cultural practices; the assumption by one parent that the children will be relocated to another country creates fear that they will not be able to maintain links with their cultural and religious heritage.

Mediators are sensitive to questions of cultural diversity and integrate them into the discussions so that the parents can voice what is important to them regarding, for example, the education of their children.

Mediation thus also provides an opportunity for taking fundamental aspects of a communitarian culture into consideration while respecting the rights of the people who come to mediation.

Some parents believe that a mediator who shares their cultural and linguistic background will be better at identifying and understanding the conflicting positions resulting from a family breakdown, as well as what is really at stake. They may therefore select mediators whose cultural and religious background reflects theirs.

Mediation can also be carried out with the help of translators or other third parties, for example a cultural interpreter or a person sharing the same cultural origin, in order to facilitate communication. These people are also bound to confidentiality on what is said during mediation.

“We agreed that the children would attend a Spanish course once a week so that they would not forget my language and that of their grandparents, with whom they spoke daily while they were here.”

 A father

Mediation can help prevent wrongful removal or non-return of a child

In a situation where one of the parents is anxious about the possible loss, relocation or non-return of a child, mediation enables concerns to be expressed and discussed with the other parent, who may be unaware of it until then. Thus, mediation can defuse frightening thoughts, and it often confirms that both parents are equally concerned about the well- being of the child.

A mediator can provide information about the potential administrative, legal and psychological consequences associated with a hasty departure of a child to another country and thus prompt any parent contemplating such an action to reassess the situation.

“I sensed that my wife wanted to leave with the children. It was in mediation that she realised what the legal consequences of a precipitous departure would be.”

 A father