Mediation can save a lot of time and money, as well as limit the damage to the relationship between the parents or improve the relationship.
What is mediation?
Mediation is one of the methods of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) available to parties. Mediation is essentially a negotiation facilitated by a neutral third party. Mediation doesn’t involve decision making by the neutral third party. The parties themselves make the decisions.
It is a structured process, in which the mediator will:
- use communication techniques
- encourage the parties to be actively involved
- facilitate open communication
- discuss the confidentiality of the meetings
- (help) analyze issues and the relevant norms
- guide the process in a constructive direction
- help the parties to find optimal solutions for everyone involved
- lay down the agreements in a document to be signed and send to court.
How to make mediation a succes
Mediation can be a success if both parties:
- cooperate voluntarily and with motivation in the interviews
- are prepared to take an interest in the other party’s interests
- are prepared to think more deeply about their own interests
- are realistic and prepared to adjust expectations and re-evaluate interests
- have prepared themselves well.
You can prepare well for mediation by:
- having all the facts and documents ready
- being well informed about the legal framework and the chances that you would have in a legal procedure
- being informed about the practical and legal problems that may arise after a judicial decision in a child abduction case and about the other disadvantages and advantages of legal proceedings compared to mediation.
- making sure that during the mediation you also have legal (and financial) assistance to discuss new facts and developments
- starting the mediation with a clear picture of what your wish to achieve, but also being prepared to adjust your goal.
What if mediation fails?
Usually, parties agree that everything discussed during mediation will remain secret. This means that if the parties subsequently make demands or present defenses in proceedings, they cannot be held to information or negotiation proposals that were shared during the mediation.
It also means that afterwards, in the court proceedings, the parties start all over again by discussing the case.
It is possible, however, that agreements could be made during the mediation about parts of the dispute and that the parties have chosen to have them recorded already.
It is also possible to make temporary agreements during the mediation which will apply until the judge has made a decision. For example, about a temporary contact arrangement.
In the Netherlands, during cross border mediation in child abduction cases, so-called ‘mirror agreements’ are worked on when the parties cannot agree on the child’s primary residence. (That name is confusing because in other countries a different meaning may be given to that term.) During the mediation, the possible visitation arrangement will be discussed further.
The intention is for the parties to agree on how the visitation arrangement will be if the court issues a return order and how the visitation arrangement with the other parent will be if the court does not. These agreements are recorded but not shown to the court. The court can then make a decision on whether or not to order the return. Then the court can take note of the agreement and record the corresponding visitation arrangement in an order.
Find a lawyer or mediator
For a number of countries, we provide a list of lawyers and mediators who can assist you in drafting an international parenting plan, in preventing conflicts over the primary residence of the children, and in negotiating and litigating over the children in the event of relocation or child abduction.