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Research into the use of mediation in cases of international parental child abduction

reunite secured funding from The Nuffield Foundation for a three-year research project to develop and trial a Mediation Pilot Scheme for use in cases of international parental child abduction where a child had been abducted to, or retained within, the United Kingdom, and where the applicant parent was pursuing the return of the child under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of Child Abduction (Hague Convention).  

This project was groundbreaking research and set out to determine whether there is a place for mediation in such cases and whether mediation could provide a realistic, practical alternative to the court process whilst, at the same time, working in legal conformity with the principles of the Hague Convention.

After developing a mediation model, we mediated in 28 cases of international parental child abduction to test whether the mediation model was effective in practice. When considering these 28 cases, three quarters of parents (75%) were able to agree a Memorandum of Understanding focused on the best interests of their child, ensuring that the child continued to have a positive relationship with both parents and their extended family, thus avoiding a court enforced decision and future litigation.

This research project clearly demonstrated that there is a role for mediation in resolving these highly contentious and emotional disputes, and that parents are willing to embrace the use of mediation. In the words of one parent:

"It avoids a courtroom battle, which in this type of situation only gets you to a no win situation.”

Mediating in these cases assists in reducing the cost to public funds of the Hague Convention proceedings, and the cost of proceedings in the other country. More importantly, mediation empowers parents to actively and purposefully address the issues affecting the future of their family.

Click here to download the full report