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 that resolving differences through litigation.
- If parents can reach a lon-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 service 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.
- The Academy
- Accord Global
- American Bar Association Family Law Section
- Association for Conflict Association
- Association of Family Law and Conciliation Courts
- Global Justice Initiative
- 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 Services
- Mediators Beyond Borders
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
Do not Attempt
We strongly discourage trying to take your child and bring him or her back home because this could:
- Endanger your child and others;
- Have a negative effect on any future legal action you might wish to take in that country;
- Result in your arrest and imprisonment in a foreign country where you are subject to local laws.
If you do succeed in leaving the foreign country with your child, you and anyone who assisted you may be the target of arrest warrants and extradition requests in the United States or any other country where you are found.