What is Mediation?
Mediation is a process in which the parties agree to work with a trained, impartial, professional in an effort to come to an agreement acceptable to both parties. Mediation can take many different forms, depending on the location of the parties, the context of the dispute, and the preference of the parties and mediator(s). Mediation may be conducted by telephone, videoconference, or other suitable means of communication if both parents cannot be present in the same location. This is especially useful in international custody matters, as the parents may be in different countries and may not be able to travel for the purpose of mediation.
Mediation may help prevent international abductions, because parents may be able to resolve a custody dispute with an agreement that both are willing to abide by. In cases where an international abduction has already taken place or one parent is denied access to the child, mediation may help the parents resolve their differences. Once an agreement is reached, the document can often be filed in court as an enforceable order.
Parents who consider mediation should always consult with their legal representatives for guidance, as mediation may or may not be the right option for any particular case. Please note that some parties may try to use mediation as tactic to delay filing Hague Convention return cases beyond the one-year timeframe set forth in Article 12 of the Convention. Parties should consult with their attorneys to help ensure their Hague case is not prejudiced if mediation is being pursued. The Office of Children’s Issues can provide resources about mediation programs in the United States and other countries but cannot give advice about whether or how to proceed.
Features of Mediation:
- Mediation is generally a private process, whereas most court proceedings are open to the public.
- Typically, settling a case through mediation is less expensive than resolving differences through litigation.
- If parents can reach a long-term agreement, it may prevent unnecessary upheaval for the child and minimize conflict between the parties.
Mediation in the United States:
There are many different models of mediation, and it is practiced differently throughout the United States. Unlike some countries, the United States does not have uniform training and standard qualifications for mediators. Mediators may be psychologists, attorneys, or a combination of these and other professions. Mediation organizations, attorneys, and universities may be helpful resources in pursuing mediation. Mediators in the U.S. may be able to co-mediate with mediators abroad, where one party is located. Contact the Office of Children’s Issues for information on international custody and family mediation resources in the United States.
Although the Department of State cannot recommend specific mediation programs, below are some resources that parents may consider. This list is provided as a courtesy only and does not constitute an endorsement of any organization or individual attorney. The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the organizations included in this list. Any fees associated with services should be discussed with the mediation programs directly.
- The Academy of Professional Family Mediators
- American Bar Association Family Law Section:
ABA Section of Family Law
Phone: (312) 988-5145
Fax: (312) 988-6800
Phone: (202) 662-1660 (general inquiries)
Fax: (202) 662-1669
- Association for Conflict Resolution
- Association of Family Law and Conciliation Courts
- Global Justice Initiative
- State and local bar associations
- Some university law clinics may be able to assist with mediation. The following universities have informed us they are willing to consider cases and applicants may contact them directly:
- The European Parliament Mediator for International Parental Child Abduction
- The Hague Conference of Private International Law Child Abduction Section and the Working Party on Mediation
- International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers
- International Child Abduction Centre
- International Mediation Institute
- International Social Service
- Mediators Beyond Borders
Notice: The listing of these organizations and publications does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by the U.S. Department of State. The Department of State assumes no responsibility for the information provided, and it should not be construed as the Department of State's legal advice.
Consult with your attorney before making any decisions that could impact the outcome of your legal case.
Consult with your country officer in the Office of Children’s Issues for more information about mediation in the country where your child is located.
What You Can Do
Contact the Authorities
Locate Your Child
State Departments Role
Steps You Can Take on Your Own
Learn about the Hague Abduction Convention & Local Laws
State Department's Role
Steps You Can Take On Your Own
What is the Hague Abduction Convention?
Explore Your Legal Options
Prepare for Reuniting with Your Child
Office of Children's Issues at the U.S. Department of State
Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information.