Improving the Situation of Children in International Child Abduction cases through Judicial Cooperation and Family Mediation

Taking the child’s best interests as a priority, the iCare project will develop and implement novel tools and activities to improve the situation of children in lnternational child abduction (ICA)cases through strengthening judicial cooperation and incorporating International Family Mediation (IFM) as complementary to judicial proceedings. This will result in a child-friendly, cost-effective and time-efficient judicial process in ICA cases.

International marriages are becoming more and more of a common occurrence in recent years, largely due to the free movement of workers that is one of the four pillars of the European single market, but also due to a higher percentage of migration flows that has been largely observed lately. Thе lack of information, coupled with the language barriers, cultural gaps and the lack of judicial cooperation, which in turn hinders and further complicates the judicial process, slowing down the processing of return applications and prolonging its timeframe, are only some of the issues in this area.

One of the main objectives of iCare is to increase the capacity of national Central Authorities designated by the relevant legislation, legal practitioners (family law judges and lawyers) and family mediators, improving cooperation and information exchange among them. To achieve this, iCare will increase their knowledge on the current legal and administrative framework, accelerate the judicial process through creating minimum EU common standards and raise their awareness of judicial cooperation and the application of IFM. The project will produce a detailed Methodology, inclusive of a Recommendations list, and an E-Platform for Central Authorities, legal practitioners and family mediators, and-both respecting the right of the child to information and increasing the knowledge of parents. An AI Chatbot will be created, serving as a first point of inquiry for children and parents. The project will also provide outputs for awareness-raising, facilitation of mutual learning and effective dissemination (E-Platform, international Workshops, Webinars, Videos, Newsletter and a Final Conference).

By implementing all the planned activities that have been mention, there will be a significant improvement of the current situation of children during ICA judicial proceedings.

This project is conducted by Law and Internet Foundation (Bulgaria), CERTH (Greece), Defence for Children International – DCI (Italy), MIIK E.V. International Mediation Centre for Family Conflict and Child Abduction – MIKK E.V. (Germany), and European Federation for Missing and Sexually Exploited Children AISBL – MCE (Belgium).