Family mediation

Mediation can be particularly helpful in cross-border family disputes and parental child abduction cases. The term ‘family matters’ covers a broad range of disputes, from purely private matters to those involving public authorities.

What is cross-border family mediation?

Cross-border family mediation is a process conducted by one (or several) impartial, qualified third person(s), the mediator. The mediator has no power to decide but helps the parties to regain communication and assists them in resolving their problem themselves.

The agreement reached is a tailor-made solution for their dispute that ensures that their parental decisions take account of the best interests of the child, if a child is concerned.

Family matters include: parental responsibility and access rights, child abduction, child protection measures, maintenance of children or ex-partners and other consequences of divorce or separation.

Partners are encouraged to take responsibility for the decisions concerning their family and to first try to resolve conflicts outside of the judicial system.

Mediation can therefore create a constructive atmosphere for discussions and ensure fair dealings between parents which also takes the best interest of the child into account.

Please consult the following pages to get more details on:

- Key principles and stages of mediation

- Particularities of cross-border mediation

- Costs of cross-border mediation

- Legal context of cross-border mediation

Please select the relevant country's flag to obtain detailed national information.

How does it work?

As a party you can apply for mediation in all the Member States. In some Member States the judge may invite the parties in a dispute to try mediation.

If all parties agree to use mediation, the selected mediator sets up the mediation schedule. The way the mediotor is selected depends on the specific country - you can find this information in the respecitve national pages available on the right hand side of this page.

Legal representatives can play an important role by providing the legal information necessary for the parties to make informed decisions.

Mediated agreements can be rendered enforceable if both parties so request. This can be achieved, for example, by way of approval by a court or certification by a public notary.

Legal representatives can review the mediated agreement to ensure that this agreement has legal effect in all legal systems concerned.

Why should you try it?

  • You have the opportunity to control the outcome of your own dispute
  • Mediation is a user-friendly environment in which the party is boss.
  • Mediation allows you to revise and adjust the scope of the conflict.
  • You make the decisions and agreements but you are not required to reach an agreement.
  • By trying mediation, you do not give up your right to file or pursue a lawsuit in court.
  • A win-win situation for every party taking part in mediation
  • The mediator is an impartial and trained helper that can assist you to try to work things out yourselves.
  • Compared to a trial mediation is relatively inexpensive.
  • Mediation is relatively swift. It can be easily scheduled any time at the mutual convenience of the parties and can take place in a variety of locations.
  • Mediation allows for flexible solutions (tailor-made) and helps in maintaining or building constructive future relationships and contacts between the parties.
  • Support and advice of a legal representative in mediation is possible.
  • Mediation can reduce future litigation.

This link will take you to the Find a mediator page.

Limits of the mediation

Where there are indications that the case is not suitable for mediation or that one (or both) of the parties are not willing to attempt mediation, the intervention of judicial authorities is necessary. In the screening of the suitability of the case, special attention must be given to the identification of possible risks such as domestic violence and its degree, drug or alcohol abuse, child abuse, etc… The suitability of the case must be decided on an individual basis and the standards applied by the mediator and the mediation organisation.

Last update: 18/01/2019

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Cross-border family mediation - Belgium

Mediation is governed by the law of 21 February 2005. Family mediation, like any other mediation, can be carried out in the context of legal proceedings (legal mediation) or without legal proceedings (voluntary mediation).

A mediation process initiated at the request of one of the parties or proposed by the judge requires the agreement of the parties.

The parties agree on the appointment of a mediator (Article 1734, first subparagraph of the ‘Code judiciaire,’ Judicial Code) who can be approved by the Federal Commission of Mediation. Either party can terminate the mediation at any time (Article 1729 Judicial Code). The mediation can be about all or part of the dispute (Article 1735(2) Judicial Code).

For all issues relating to the family court, at the time an application is made, the court clerk informs the parties of the possibility of resorting to mediation and gives them all the relevant information (Article 1253ter/1 Judicial Code). In divorce for irremediable breakdown, the judge can order the suspension of the procedure for period of not more than a month so that the parties can obtain information about mediation (Article 1255(6), second subparagraph, Judicial Code). However, the family court amicable settlement divisions are founded on the concept of reconciliation (Article 731 Judicial Code): the judges aim to reconcile the parties even if they do not make the final judgment in the case. Judges are not authorised under the judicial code to be mediators.

Mediation is carried out in complete confidentiality and the mediator is bound by professional secrecy (Article 1728(1) Judicial Code).

The mediation process has three phases:

- the appointment of the mediator by the judge

- the deferral of the case to a later date by the judge, who specifies the advance payment.

- the outcome of the mediation: if it is successful, the terms of the agreement are confirmed in writing by the parties (mediation agreement) and can be approved by the judge. If the mediation is unsuccessful, the parties can start (or continue) the court proceedings or jointly request the appointment of another mediator.

The amount of the fees and expenses and the terms of payment are agreed in advance by the parties and the mediator.

Link to a national website for a list of family mediators: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.fbc-cfm.be/fr/trouver-un-mediateur

Link to a national website providing information on family mediation or on general mediation: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.fbc-cfm.be/fr/mediation

Link to the national legislation on family mediation: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.fbc-cfm.be/fr/content/national-0

Last update: 08/09/2016

The national language version of this page is maintained by the respective EJN contact point. The translations have been done by the European Commission service. Possible changes introduced in the original by the competent national authority may not be yet reflected in the translations. Neither the EJN nor the European Commission accept responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to any information or data contained or referred to in this document. Please refer to the legal notice to see copyright rules for the Member State responsible for this page.

Cross-border family mediation - Czech Republic

In the Czech Republic, mediation is regulated by Act No 202/2012 on mediation ('the Act'), which entered into force on 1 September 2012 and which implements Directive 2008/52/EC on certain aspects of mediation in civil and commercial matters.

The Act governs the legal arrangements for mediation in civil matters (including family matters). In order to be placed on the mediators' register and authorised to work as a mediator in accordance with the Act, a mediator must pass a specialist examination.

Where useful and appropriate, a court may order the parties to meet a registered mediator for a maximum of three hours and, at the same time, suspend the proceedings. Should a party refuse without good reason to attend such a meeting with a mediator, the court may penalise it by refusing — in a departure from customary practice — to award all or part of the costs of the proceedings if the party wins the case.

Link to a Czech website providing a list of registered mediators dealing with family matters:

Link opens in new windowhttp://mediatori.justice.cz/MediatorPublic/Public/FR003_ZverejneniVybranychUdaju.aspx

Link to a Czech website providing information concerning mediation proceedings in family matters or mediation in general:

Such a website is not available.

Links to websites providing access to Czech legislation governing mediation in family matters:

Link opens in new windowhttp://aplikace.mvcr.cz/sbirka-zakonu/ViewFile.aspx?type=c&id=6196

Link opens in new windowhttp://www.cak.cz/assets/zakon-o-mediaci_aj.pdf (text of the Act in English)

Last update: 06/03/2019

The national language version of this page is maintained by the respective EJN contact point. The translations have been done by the European Commission service. Possible changes introduced in the original by the competent national authority may not be yet reflected in the translations. Neither the EJN nor the European Commission accept responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to any information or data contained or referred to in this document. Please refer to the legal notice to see copyright rules for the Member State responsible for this page.

Cross-border family mediation - Germany

A brief introduction to family mediation in Germany

Extract from the ‘Marriage Law’ (‘Eherecht’) pamphlet published by the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (Bundesministerium der Justiz und für Verbraucherschutz), p. 73:

‘6.2.5 Family Mediation

Couples who are going through a separation or divorce often want to manage their family relationships in an amicable way. In cases like this, mediation is an excellent alternative to court proceedings.

The legal framework for mediation was created by the Mediation Act (Mediationsgesetz), which came into effect on 26 July 2012.

Mediation helps the parties find an amicable solution to their conflict with the help of a neutral person (the mediator). The participants take responsibility for the solution and the mediator does not have the power to make decisions.

This means that, unlike in a court case, the real interests and needs of those involved can be determined and used as the basis for a solution which is tailored to the individual conflict. Court decisions are less likely to take the interests of those involved into account. Such solutions are therefore more readily accepted by those involved and are generally more effective in the long term. Mediation can lead to contractual agreements being drawn up relating to, for example, maintenance, assets, property, parental responsibility or access rights.

As part of divorce proceedings, the court can order that the spouses, either individually or together, attend a free information session on mediation, or take part in another form of out-of-court dispute settlement for pending related matters[1] with the help of a person or body nominated by the court, and that they provide confirmation of their participation (Section 135 of the Act on the Procedure in Family Matters and in Matters of Non-contentious Jurisdiction – Gesetz über das Verfahren in Familiensachen und in den Angelegenheiten der freiwilligen Gerichtsbarkeit, FamFG). This order cannot legally be enforced. However, the court can take failure to comply with the order into account when deciding on how to apportion costs (Section 150(4) FamFG).’

The same applies for matters relating to children pursuant to Section 156( 1), sentences 3 and 5, and Section 81(2), No 5 FamFG. In cases like these, the court can also order the parents to attend an information session on mediation or take part in another form of out-of-court dispute settlement. This order cannot legally be enforced, but the court can take failure to comply with the order into account when deciding on how to apportion costs relating to the case.

Links for German websites where you can find mediators for family matters

Mediation bei internationalen Kindschaftskonflikten (MiKK e. V.), Fasanenstraße 12, 10623 Berlin, Germany (mediation for international cases involving children)

Link opens in new windowhttp://www.mikk-ev.de/

- Zentrale Anlaufstelle für grenzüberschreitende Kindschaftskonflikte beim Internationalen Sozialdienst im Deutschen Verein (ZAnK), Michaelkirchstraße 17/18, 10179 Berlin, Germany (mediation for cross-border cases involving children)

Link opens in new windowhttp://www.zank.de/

Links for German websites where you can find information about family mediation or mediation in general

- Bundesverband Mediation e.V. (BM), Wittestr. 30 K, 13509 Berlin

Link opens in new windowhttp://www.bmev.de/

- Bundes-Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Familien-Mediation e.V. (BAFM), Spichernstraße 11, 10777 Berlin

Link opens in new windowhttp://www.bafm-mediation.de/

Links for German legislation on family mediation

- Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, Mohrenstraße 37, 10117 Berlin

Link opens in new windowhttp://www.bmjv.de/

- Act on the Promotion of Mediation and Other Forms of Out-of-Court Dispute Settlement (Gesetz zur Förderung der Mediation und anderer Verfahren der außergerichtlichen Konfliktbeilegung) (BGBl. (Bundesgesetzblatt, Federal Law Gazette) 2012 Part I No 35 of 25 July 2012)

Link opens in new windowhttps://www.bmjv.de/SharedDocs/Gesetzgebungsverfahren/Archiv/Gesetz_zur_Foerderung_der_Mediation_und_anderer_Verfahren_der_au%C3%9Fergerichtlichen_Konfliktbeilegung.html


[1] Related matters include disputes relating to matrimonial property regimes, pension rights adjustments, maintenance payments, the marital home and household costs.

Last update: 04/11/2019

The national language version of this page is maintained by the respective EJN contact point. The translations have been done by the European Commission service. Possible changes introduced in the original by the competent national authority may not be yet reflected in the translations. Neither the EJN nor the European Commission accept responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to any information or data contained or referred to in this document. Please refer to the legal notice to see copyright rules for the Member State responsible for this page.

Cross-border family mediation - Estonia

Family mediation or the mediation of divorce disputes is primarily intended for parents going through a divorce or separation who require the assistance of an impartial specialist to mediate their differences of opinion and to facilitate communication and cooperation between them on issues concerning future arrangements regarding their children and to conclude agreements on such matters. The aim of mediation proceedings is not so much to achieve reconciliation as it is to reach workable settlements.

The service is made available and financed in the following ways:

  1. by being directed to the service by the local government in which the child resides and with partial financing from that local government;
  2. by initiating court proceedings and being directed to the service by a judge with the parties’ own financing or, where possible, by applying for national legal aid;
  3. at the initiative and with the own financing of an informed parent or by being directed to the service through the Estonian Association of Mediators (with the parties’ own financing).

The price for a mediation process paid for by the parties themselves varies by region. A session costs EUR 60-80 in Tallinn and other larger cities in Estonia and EUR 40-50 elsewhere in the country. One session lasts 90 minutes and the parties can expect to attend an average of 5 to 6 meetings.

The family mediation service may be provided by specialists in psychology, the social sector (including child protection and social work) or law who have completed special training and hold a relevant professional certificate; the contacts of these specialists are available on the websites of the Link opens in new windowEstonian Association of Mediators, county courts and local governments.

In Estonia, the organisation of the family mediation service is regulated by the following legislation:

There are also internationally qualified mediators working in Estonia who are competent to handle cross-border mediation cases in which one parent has taken a child to a country that is neither the child's native country nor its habitual country of residence. The working languages are Estonian, English, Russian and Finnish. The mediators can be reached at the association's Link opens in new windowfunctional mailbox.

Last update: 27/06/2019

The national language version of this page is maintained by the respective EJN contact point. The translations have been done by the European Commission service. Possible changes introduced in the original by the competent national authority may not be yet reflected in the translations. Neither the EJN nor the European Commission accept responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to any information or data contained or referred to in this document. Please refer to the legal notice to see copyright rules for the Member State responsible for this page.

Cross-border family mediation - Ireland

The Mediation Act 2017 does not cover cross-border mediations specifically, and mediation under the Act is voluntary in all cases.  If cross-border family mediation is undertaken in Ireland, then the provisions of the Act apply.

The Mediation Act 2017 Link opens in new windowhttp://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2017/act/27/enacted/en/html came into operation on 1 January, 2018.  The Act contains provisions for a comprehensive statutory framework to promote the resolution of disputes through mediation as an alternative to court proceedings. The underlying objective of the Act is to promote mediation as a viable, effective and efficient alternative to court proceedings, thereby reducing legal costs, speeding up the resolution of disputes and reducing the stress and acrimony which often accompanies court proceedings.

The Act:

  • contains general principles for the conduct of mediation by qualified mediators – sections 6 to 8;
  • provides for the introduction of codes of practice for the conduct of mediation by qualified mediators – section 9.
  • provides that communications between parties during mediation shall be confidential – section 10;
  • provides for the possible future establishment of a Mediation Council to oversee development of the sector – section 12;
  • introduces an obligation on solicitors and barristers to advise parties to disputes to consider using mediation as a means of resolving them – Sections 14 and 15:
  • provides that a court may, on its own initiative or on the initiative of the parties invite the parties to consider mediation as a means of resolving the dispute – Section 16;
  • provides for the effect of mediation on limitation and prescription periods – section 18;
  • provides that a court may, in awarding costs in respect of proceedings referred to in section 16 of the Act, where it considers it just, have regard to any unreasonable refusal or failure by a party to the proceedings to consider using mediation or any unreasonable refusal of failure of a party to attend mediation following an invitation by the court to do so under section 16 – sections 20 and 21;

The scope of the Act includes all civil proceedings that may be instituted before a court save for certain exceptions provided for in section 3 of the Act.

Last update: 09/11/2018

The national language version of this page is maintained by the respective EJN contact point. The translations have been done by the European Commission service. Possible changes introduced in the original by the competent national authority may not be yet reflected in the translations. Neither the EJN nor the European Commission accept responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to any information or data contained or referred to in this document. Please refer to the legal notice to see copyright rules for the Member State responsible for this page.

Cross-border family mediation - Greece

Family mediation

The expression ‘family mediation’ refers to a form of out-of-court settlement of family disputes (i.e. financial disputes and disputes relating to property rights between spouses, similar disputes arising out of cohabitation or the relations between parents and children, and other family disputes), in which the parties are helped to arrive jointly at a mutually acceptable settlement.

Ι. The institution of mediation (διαμεσολάβηση) was introduced into the Greek justice system by Law 3898/2010 on mediation in civil and commercial matters (Government Gazette, Series I, No 211/16-10-2010), which implemented Directive 2008/52/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2008.

According to Article 2 of Law 3898/2010, ‘private‑law disputes may be referred to mediation by agreement between the parties, provided the subject‑matter of the dispute is at the parties’ disposal’, while Article 8 of the same Law provides that: ‘1. The parties or their legal representatives, or in the case of legal persons their agents, shall attend the mediation with their lawyer. 2. The mediator shall be designated by the parties or by a third party of their choosing. 3. The mediation procedure shall be determined by the mediator in agreement with the parties, who may terminate it whenever they so wish. The mediation process shall be confidential and no minutes shall be kept. In the course of the mediation, the mediator may communicate with and meet each of the parties’. On completion of the process, the mediator must draw up a record of the mediation (Article 9 of Law 3898/2010), including the agreement reached, signed by the mediator, the parties and the parties’ lawyers. If so requested by at least one of the parties, the mediator must also deposit the record with the registry of the court of first instance of the place, whereupon it becomes enforceable.

The mediator is remunerated at an hourly rate, for a maximum of 24 hours, which includes the time spent preparing for the mediation. The parties and the mediator may agree on a different method of remuneration. The mediator’s remuneration is borne by the parties in equal shares, unless they agree otherwise. Each party bears the cost of the remuneration of their own lawyer. The amount of the hourly fee is set and reviewed by decision of the Minister for Justice, Transparency and Human Rights.

(See Link opens in new windowhttp://www.diamesolavisi.gov.gr/)

ΙΙ. Additionally Article 214Β(1) of the Code of Civil Procedure, which was inserted by Article 7 of Law 4055/2012, introduced the institution of judicial mediation (δικαστική μεσολάβηση); according to that Article, ‘private‑law disputes may also be resolved by recourse to judicial mediation. Recourse to judicial mediation is optional and may take place before an action is filed or while it is pending’. The final subparagraph of paragraph 3 of the same Article states that ‘any interested party may, through a lawyer acting on their behalf, submit a written request asking that the case be referred to the judge-mediator’. The Article goes on, ‘4. The court in which the case is pending may at any time, depending on the case and taking into account all the circumstances, call upon the parties to resort to judicial mediation with a view to settling their dispute and, at the same time, if the parties agree, may defer the hearing of the case for a short period, but for no more than six months. 5. If the parties reach an agreement, a record of the mediation shall be drawn up. The record shall be signed by the mediator, the parties and the parties’ lawyers, and the original shall be deposited with the registry of the court of first instance where the mediation took place … Once the record of the mediation is deposited with the registry of the court of first instance, in so far as it shows that the parties have agreed that a claim exists, it shall constitute an enforceable title in accordance with Article 904(2)(c) of the Code of Civil Procedure’.

The costs of judicial mediation fall squarely within the scope of the Law on the provision of legal aid to citizens with low incomes (Law 3226/2004).

Two important provisions are the new Article 116A of the Code of Civil Procedure, (inserted by Article 1(2) of Law 4335/2015), which states that ‘at any time during a trial and in all proceedings the court shall encourage … the choice of mediation as a means of settling the dispute out of court’, and Article 214C of the Code of Civil Procedure, which states that ‘the court shall suggest that the parties resort to mediation if that would be appropriate in the circumstances of the case. If the court’s proposal is accepted, the hearing of the case shall be deferred for a period of three months. The same shall apply if the parties themselves decide to have recourse to mediation while the action is pending’.

There is no legislation in Greece governing family mediation specifically, so the rules that apply are the general rules on mediation and judicial mediation set out above.

Couples with different nationalities — married or living together in non‑marital partnerships — result in bicultural families, and in the event of divorce or break-up of the relationship, in addition to the ordinary issues associated with family disputes (e.g. parental responsibility, custody, contact with the child, child maintenance, property issues between the spouses), an even more serious difficulty can arise in cross-border cases, that of child abduction. The rules outlined above on mediation and judicial mediation can be readily applied in such cases; they are consistent with the already applicable rules of Article 7(2)(c) of the Hague Convention of 1980 and Article 55(2)(e) of Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 (the ‘Brussels IIa’ Regulation).

Last update: 07/09/2016

The national language version of this page is maintained by the respective EJN contact point. The translations have been done by the European Commission service. Possible changes introduced in the original by the competent national authority may not be yet reflected in the translations. Neither the EJN nor the European Commission accept responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to any information or data contained or referred to in this document. Please refer to the legal notice to see copyright rules for the Member State responsible for this page.

Please note that the original language version of this page Spanish has been amended recently. The language version you are now viewing is currently being prepared by our translators.

Cross-border family mediation - Spain

1 Family Mediation Procedure

Family mediation is entirely voluntary in Spain and, to facilitate it in cases involving, inter alia, cross-border family mediation, general mediation legislation expressly allows it to be carried out by videoconference or other electronic means that allow voice or image transmission. The parties may go to mediation either before the start of the court proceedings or while they are ongoing, and even after they have been concluded, in order to change the outcome or to make it easier to enforce the court decision. If they do so before the proceedings and reach an agreement, the legal process is expedited because the parties go to a simplified procedure where both parties present the agreement to the Family Court (Juzgado de Familia), which approves the agreement if it is not contrary to the law or the interests of the minor or disabled children the couple may have. Likewise, if there are no minors or disabled children, the parties may also choose to present the agreement directly to a notary, who will record it in a deed, giving it the same effects as a court decision.

If the court proceedings have begun without the parties going to mediation, the judge, taking into account the circumstances of the case, may agree that the parties should go to mediation and the Family Court will refer them to a free information session. If they decide to go to mediation, the legal proceedings are not suspended, unless the parties request a stay of proceedings, and if an agreement is ultimately reached, it is approved by the court. However, if no agreement is reached or the parties did not want to use mediation, judgment is made on all those points on which the parties disagree.

Family mediation is not possible where there are proceedings for gender-based violence between the parties.

The information session is free, but the mediation itself involves a cost to be borne by the parties unless they qualify for legal aid. All the information about the content and requirements for obtaining legal aid is available at

Link opens in new windowhttp://www.mjusticia.gob.es/cs/Satellite/Portal/es/servicios-ciudadano/tramites-gestiones-personales/asistencia-juridica-gratuita

2 Profession of family mediator and access to a mediator

The mediator must have a university degree or higher vocational training and, in addition, must have specific training to practise mediation that is given in institutions accredited for that purpose.

There is no requirement to be registered in any register in order to be able to practise family mediation, but registers have been set up where mediators can register both at the national level (Register of Mediators and Mediation Institutions whose website is given below - Registro de Mediadores e Instituciones de Mediación) and at the level of the Autonomous Communities.

At the latter level, almost all the Autonomous Communities have created a public mediation service. For information about this, simply go to the mediation section of their institutional websites where they explain in varying degrees of detail how the mediation system works, regulate the Registry of Mediators, where there is one, with a link to it. The websites also usually have mediation request forms that refer to the specialised agencies they have set up to carry out the mediation.

In order to find a family mediator, you have to differentiate between whether mediation is to take place once the proceedings have started or independently of the proceedings. If mediation is requested once the proceedings have started, the relevant Family Court will refer the parties to the family mediation bodies attached to it, whereas if mediation is used before or outside the court proceedings, the party will have to seek a family mediator. The following sources of information may be useful:

- The Register of Mediators and Mediation Institutions at the national level referred to previously Link opens in new windowhttp://www.mjusticia.gob.es/cs/Satellite/Portal/es/areas-tematicas/registros/mediadores-instituciones

- The following institutions, suggested by the Ministry of Justice Link opens in new windowhttps://www.administraciondejusticia.gob.es/paj/publico/pagaj/home/)

- The Mediation Services suggested for the provinces by the General Council of the Judiciary (Consejo General del Poder Judicial) Link opens in new windowhttp://www.poderjudicial.es/cgpj/es/Temas/Mediacion/Organos-judiciales-que-ofrecen-mediacion/Mediacion-Familiar/

- The Mediation Services set up by the different Autonomous Communities. The institutional websites of the Autonomous Communities usually contain information.

In addition to the above, more information on the family mediation procedure, the applicable legislation, the mediation services existing in the different Autonomous Communities and the relevant formalities are available on the website of the General Council of the Judiciary Link opens in new windowhttp://www.poderjudicial.es/cgpj/es/Temas/Mediacion

Last update: 04/09/2019

The national language version of this page is maintained by the respective EJN contact point. The translations have been done by the European Commission service. Possible changes introduced in the original by the competent national authority may not be yet reflected in the translations. Neither the EJN nor the European Commission accept responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to any information or data contained or referred to in this document. Please refer to the legal notice to see copyright rules for the Member State responsible for this page.

Please note that the original language version of this page French has been amended recently. The language version you are now viewing is currently being prepared by our translators.

Cross-border family mediation - France

Cross-border family mediation is promoted by international and European cooperation agreements, in order to encourage calm and rapid resolution of disputes. France has established a unit within its central administration intended to encourage the use of mediation in cross-border cases. National legislation as regards mediation is also relevant as it may apply to cross-border cases.

National regulatory framework

Law No 95-125 of 8 February 1995, followed by decree No 2012-66 of 22 July 1996, was the foundation for legal mediation in France. Any judge taking a case, may, with the agreement of the parties, appoint a qualified, impartial and independent third party mediator.

Order (ordonnance) No 2011-1540 of 16 November 2011, which transposed Directive 2008/52/EC of 21 May 2008, amended the law of 8 February 1995. This law defines mediation as any structured process by which two or more parties try to reach an agreement, with a view to the amicable resolution of their disagreements with the assistance of a third party. It established common arrangements for all forms of mediation.

For family mediation, there is a national qualification created by the decree of 2 December 2003 ( Link opens in new windowarticles R.451-66 et suivants du Code de l'Action Sociale et des Familles) and the decrees of 12 February 2004 and 19 March 2012. However, at the present time, this qualification is not essential for work as a family mediator because family mediation is not a regulated profession.

Mediators work either in the voluntary sector, or under the regulatory framework for the liberal professions.

Family mediation can intervene:

1) before legal intervention: this is known as family mediation by agreement: the case is directly submitted to the mediator by the parties;

2) during the legal proceedings: Article 1071 of the Code of Civil Procedure, Article 255 and Article 373-2-10 of the Civil Code;

  • the family affairs judge (juge aux affaires familiales) can propose mediation to the parties and after having obtained their agreement, appoint a family mediator to proceed;
  • the family affairs judge can order the parties to meet a family mediator who will inform them about the purpose of and the procedure for family mediation.

An agreement obtained from family mediation may be the subject of approval by the family affairs judge (Articles 1534 and 1565 and following of the Code of Civil Procedure). The judge will approve the agreement except if he/she finds that it does not sufficiently safeguard the interests of a child, or that the parents’ consent has not been given freely (Article 373-2-7, subparagraph 2, of the Civil Code) or more generally that it could be contrary to public policy.

Costs: The first information interview with the family mediator is free for the user. However, family mediation requires a financial contribution from the parties according to an official scale applying to mediation services, based on the principle of a payment per session and per person, dependant on the income of the parties. When an individual benefits from legal aid, the state pays the fees for family mediation and the national scale provides for an increase in the remuneration of the lawyer whenever mediation has been ordered by the family affairs judge.

International family mediation

International family mediation is provided for in international cooperation agreements with regard to family issues (the Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 and the Brussels IIA Regulation), in order to facilitate amicable resolution with a view to the return of the child in the case of international abduction, or agreement on the exercise of a parent’s access rights.

Those with an interest can:

1) Contact mediators who act as liberal professionals or within the voluntary sector: a list of mediators able to act in international family cases can be found online at the following address: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.justice.gouv.fr/26139 (or click Link opens in new windowhere);

2) Have recourse to mediation through the dedicated unit within the central administration: France has an international family mediation unit within the Ministry of Justice ( Link opens in new windowCMFI). In each new cross-border case, the unit offers to help by intervening in advance, during and/or after the legal proceedings, as a support measure. Agreements reached are submitted, where appropriate after approval by the parties’ legal advisers, to the courts of the relevant countries.

When one parent makes a request for international family mediation to the central administration, the latter proposes such mediation to the other parent. The approach must be voluntary: there must not be any constraint in the implementation of an international family mediation process.

In its work on international family mediation, the dedicated unit within the central administration operates impartially and completely confidentially with each parent.

Mediation carried out by the international family mediation unit of the Ministry of Justice is free. The application, accompanied by documents related to the current or past court proceedings in France or abroad, must be sent to the following address:

Ministère de la Justice (Ministry of Justice)

Direction des Affaires Civiles et du Sceau – BDIP (Department of Civil Affairs)

Cellule de médiation familiale internationale (International Family Mediation Unit)

13 Place Vendôme

75 042 Paris Cedex 01

It can also be sent by e-mail: Link opens in new windowentraide-civile-internationale@justice.gouv.fr

Link to the French Ministry of Justice website (international family mediation unit): Link opens in new windowhttp://www.justice.gouv.fr/justice-civile-11861/enlevement-parental-12063/la-mediation-21106.html

Last update: 08/09/2016

The national language version of this page is maintained by the respective EJN contact point. The translations have been done by the European Commission service. Possible changes introduced in the original by the competent national authority may not be yet reflected in the translations. Neither the EJN nor the European Commission accept responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to any information or data contained or referred to in this document. Please refer to the legal notice to see copyright rules for the Member State responsible for this page.

Cross-border family mediation - Croatia

MEDIATION

On 1 November 2015, the new Family Act (Obiteljski zakon; Narodne novine (Official Gazette) No 103/15) entered into force in the Republic of Croatia. It consists of 10 separate parts, with the seventh separate part regulating the area of mandatory counselling and family mediation.

Mandatory counselling is a way of helping family members to reach agreements on family relations, while taking special care about the protection of family relations which involve a child and about the legal consequences of failure to reach an agreement and the launch of legal proceedings in which the personal rights of the child are decided. Mandatory counselling is carried out by an expert team of a competent social welfare centre according to the child’s permanent or temporary residence or the place of the last joint permanent or temporary residence of spouses or extramarital partners. In accordance with the Family Act, mandatory counselling is not to be carried out prior to initiating enforcement and security proceedings. Members of the family participate in mandatory counselling personally and without proxy.

Mandatory counselling is carried out: 1. before initiating divorce proceedings between spouses who have a common minor child and 2. before initiating other court proceedings for exercising parental custody and a personal relationship with a child. Prior to initiating divorce proceedings, mandatory counselling is not carried out with respect to a spouse or both spouses who are: 1. deprived of contractual capacity, if they are unable to understand the meaning and consequences of the proceedings even with expert assistance, 2. judgment impaired or 3. of unknown permanent or temporary residence.

Mandatory counselling is initiated by way of application of one party, which is submitted to a social welfare centre in written form or registered orally. Upon receipt of the application for mandatory counselling, the social welfare centre is obligated to schedule a meeting and summon the parties. By way of derogation, if the social welfare centre considers that in the given circumstances a joint meeting would not be useful or if one or both parties so request for justifiable reasons, separate interviews with parties are scheduled and carried out.

Family mediation is a process in which family members participate voluntarily. By way of derogation, the first meeting of family mediation prior to initiating divorce proceedings is mandatory.

Family mediation is a process in which parties attempt to reach an agreement on a family dispute with the assistance of one or more family mediators. A family mediator is an impartial and specially trained person entered in the register of family mediators. The main purpose of the family mediation process is to achieve a plan of shared parental custody and other agreements with regard to the child. Besides achieving that purpose, in the process of family mediation the parties can also agree on all other issues relating to assets and other issues.

Family mediation is not carried out: 1. in cases in which the expert team of a social welfare centre or the family mediator assesses that the equal participation of spouses in the process of family mediation is not possible due to domestic violence, 2. if one or both spouses are deprived of contractual capacity, and are not able to understand the meaning and legal consequences of the process even with expert assistance, 3. if the judgment of one or both spouses is impaired and 4. if the temporary or permanent residence of a spouse is unknown.

Family mediation may be carried out regardless of court proceedings prior to initiating court proceedings, during or after the court proceedings have ended. In accordance with the Family Act, family mediation is not carried out prior to initiating enforcement and security proceedings. By way of derogation, during the process of enforcement for the purpose of exercising a personal relationship with the child, the court may propose to the parties that they enter family mediation. Thus, after interviewing the parties and taking into account the circumstances of the case, the court may postpone the enforcement for thirty days and order that a professional person talk to the child or propose to the parties that they enter family mediation to reach an agreement on the dispute; if needed, the court may specify the exercise of a personal relationship by special decision in more detail during the interview with a professional person or family mediation, and the court will not proceed in such a way if the family mediation was attempted unsuccessfully or if urgent action is necessary.

The family mediator and other persons involved in the process of family mediation are obligated to safeguard confidential information and data which they became aware of during the process of family mediation in relation to third persons, except: 1. if it is necessary to communicate information for the purpose of conducting or executing the agreement or 2. if it is necessary to communicate information in order to protect a child whose well-being is endangered or in order to remove the danger of a serious violation of a person's mental and physical integrity. The family mediator is obligated to inform the parties of the scope of the principle of confidentiality.

As regards the agreement reached during family mediation, the Family Act prescribes that the plan on joint parental custody or other agreements reached in the process of family mediation must be in written form and be signed by all parties and that they will be equivalent to an enforceable document if the court approves them in non-contentious proceedings at the proposal of the parties.

If the parties do not reach an agreement on the plan of joint parental custody, or on another contentious family relationship, the family mediator will indicate in the report on the suspension of the process of family mediation whether both parties have participated actively. The report on the suspension of family mediation is delivered to participants. The family mediator will deliver a report on the suspension of family mediation to the court which stayed the proceedings due to the process of family mediation being carried out.

In the event that during court proceedings the parties propose by consensual agreement to resolve the dispute by way of the process of family mediation, the court may stay the proceedings, in which case it will set a three-month time limit in which the parties may attempt to resolve the dispute in the process of family mediation. In the event that during court proceedings the court considers that there is a possibility of reaching a consensual agreement on the family dispute, it may also propose the process of family mediation to the parties. If the parties agree to enter the process of family mediation, the court will stay the proceedings and set a three-month time limit in which the parties may attempt to resolve the dispute in the process of family mediation. If the parties, within the three-month time limit for conducting family mediation set by a court, do not succeed in resolving the dispute in the process of family mediation or if the parties propose the continuation of court proceedings before the expiry of that time limit, the court will continue with the proceedings. Before deciding on the stay of the proceedings, the court is obligated to assess whether the stay is appropriate in view of the need for urgent action in cases in which a child’s rights and interests are being decided.

In the process of family mediation, the family mediator is obligated to inform the participants to take care of the well-being of the child, and he or she can allow children to express their opinion in the process of family meditation with the consent of their parents.

The family mediator who conducted the process of family mediation may not participate in writing expert opinions or family assessments or participate in any other way in court proceedings in which the dispute of the parties who participated in family mediation is being decided, except in cases prescribed by law.

If the family mediation is carried out by family mediators employed in the social welfare system, the parties do not pay fees for the work of family mediators. If the family mediation is carried out by family mediators outside the social welfare system, the parties bear the cost of their participation.

The provisions which regulate mediation are applied in the process of family mediation in an appropriate manner.

For further information see:

The Family Act (Official Gazette No 103/15)

Rules on family mediation (Pravilnik o obiteljskoj medijaciji; Official Gazette No 106/14)

The Mediation Act (Zakon o mirenju; Official Gazette No 18/11)

Last update: 20/11/2019

The national language version of this page is maintained by the respective EJN contact point. The translations have been done by the European Commission service. Possible changes introduced in the original by the competent national authority may not be yet reflected in the translations. Neither the EJN nor the European Commission accept responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to any information or data contained or referred to in this document. Please refer to the legal notice to see copyright rules for the Member State responsible for this page.

Cross-border family mediation - Italy

Family mediation is a process which spouses or partners experiencing difficulties can voluntarily decide to use in order to resolve their dispute involving one or more mediators. The task of the mediators is to facilitate communication and help the couple address both the emotional and the material aspects of the separation (division of assets, maintenance payments, allocation of the marital home, etc.). Their task also includes encouraging the couple to structure the agreements that best meet the needs of all family members.

Mediation is governed, in general terms, by Legislative Decree No 28 of 4 March 2010, as amended, on the ‘Implementation of Article 60 of Law No 69 of 18 June 2009, concerning mediation for the purpose of settling civil and commercial disputes’.

This law sets out the procedure for settling disputes regarding transferable rights out of court. For certain matters expressly indicated, mediation is a pre-condition for the document instituting the proceedings to be deemed admissible.

In family law matters, only disputes concerning family business agreements (i.e., contracts through which the Link opens in new windowbusiness owner transfers, fully or in part, his or her Link opens in new windowundertaking to one or more descendants) require prior mediation.

For all other family disputes mediation is voluntary.

However, in child custody proceedings the court may postpone delivering a judgment so that the spouses, with the help of experts, can attempt mediation to reach an agreement, especially as regards protecting the moral and material interests of the child(ren).

Mediation can take place in or through public or private bodies duly entered in the register of mediation bodies kept by the Ministry of Justice.

The list of mediation bodies can be found on the following website:

Link opens in new windowhttps://mediazione.giustizia.it/ROM/ALBOORGANISMIMEDIAZIONE.ASPX

Lawyers registered at the Italian Bar are mediators by right.

In many municipalities, family mediation services can be accessed through family advice centres, social services or local health undertakings.

Another procedure – which is different from mediation but which is also designed to settle disputes out of court – is assisted negotiation. This is governed by Decree Law No 132 of 12 September 2014, converted with amendments by Law No 162 of 10 November 2014.

Assisted negotiation refers to an agreement (known as a ‘negotiation agreement’) through which the parties agree to ‘cooperate in good faith to settle the dispute amicably’. For the agreement to be valid, it must be drawn up in writing with the help of one or more lawyers, and must concern transferable rights.

Unlike agreements reached through mediation, assisted negotiation agreements are enforceable and mean that judgment mortgages can be registered.

Like mediation, the negotiation can be mandatory or voluntary.

In family law matters, assisted negotiation is always voluntary.

The law governs assisted negotiation in matters concerning separation and divorce, with a view to achieving a settlement by consent or an amendment to the conditions previously established.

For couples who have no children who are minors (or adult children lacking capacity), the agreement is submitted to the public prosecutor at the competent court who, as long as he or she does not find any irregularities, notifies the lawyers that there is no impediment to the settlement.

In the case of couples with children who are minors (or adult children lacking capacity), the agreement must be sent within 10 days to the public prosecutor's office at the competent court for verification that it will guarantee the interests of the children. If the assessment is positive, the public prosecutor authorises it. If not, he or she sends it to the president of the court, who convenes the parties within the next 30 days.

The agreement reached and authorised in this way has the effects and takes the place of judicial separation or divorce provisions and changes the conditions set out therein.

Following the entry into force of Law No 76 of 20 May 2016, the parties may also use assisted negotiation in the event of dissolution of a civil partnership between persons of the same sex.

Last update: 04/02/2019

The national language version of this page is maintained by the respective EJN contact point. The translations have been done by the European Commission service. Possible changes introduced in the original by the competent national authority may not be yet reflected in the translations. Neither the EJN nor the European Commission accept responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to any information or data contained or referred to in this document. Please refer to the legal notice to see copyright rules for the Member State responsible for this page.

Cross-border family mediation - Cyprus

To date, Cyprus has not yet established any statutory mediation procedure.

Last update: 13/05/2019

The national language version of this page is maintained by the respective EJN contact point. The translations have been done by the European Commission service. Possible changes introduced in the original by the competent national authority may not be yet reflected in the translations. Neither the EJN nor the European Commission accept responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to any information or data contained or referred to in this document. Please refer to the legal notice to see copyright rules for the Member State responsible for this page.

Cross-border family mediation - Latvia

In order to facilitate the application of alternative means of dispute resolution, the Republic of Latvia has adopted the Mediation

Law (in effect since 18 June 2014).

The model of mediation recommended by the court in civil proceedings came into effect on 1 January 2015. Judges are assigned the obligation to offer the parties the option of mediation to resolve the dispute at different stages of the proceedings (after commencement of a case, when preparing a case for trial and at the preliminary case hearing, and also during legal proceedings, until the examination on the merits is completed).

Several projects have been implemented to promote mediation as a way of resolving disputes:

1. Free mediation consultations known as ‘mediation tables’, offered in courts by the Council of Certified Mediators (available for family disputes, but not limited to them)

Since 15 September 2016, the Ministry of Justice along with the Council of Certified Mediators have been implementing a pilot project where anyone who has applied for resolution of a civil dispute in court has the opportunity to receive a certified mediator’s consultation for one hour free of charge. Court-recommended free consultations by certified mediators are available at several courts in Riga and all over Latvia. Under the scope of the project, during the certified mediator’s consultation, the participants of a case are informed about the substance, procedure and conditions of the mediation process, and an assessment is made of the possibility of resolving the specific dispute through mediation.

2. Project – Free mediation in family disputes

Since 1 January 2017, individuals can receive state-provided support within a state budget program – the opportunity to attend five free sessions with a certified mediator to resolve disagreements between parents that affect children’s interests and find ways to improve relations between family members. Within the framework of the project, state support provides for the first five mediation sessions (60 minutes each) managed by a certified mediator, which are free of charge for the parties. If the dispute is not resolved within five sessions, the cost of further services should be covered by the parties. A certified mediator or the Council of Certified Mediators should be consulted to assess a person’s eligibility. Information on the project is made available to persons concerned via courts, and is transferred to municipalities, social services, family courts, etc.

The project is intended to provide assistance to 300 couples, allowing parents with children to solve both family disputes and disagreements that are being examined in court, and also those that have not yet been taken to court. In particular, the project seeks to support marriages, or at least resolve disagreements in such a way as allows the maintaining of respect between the child’s parents, and ensures that they retain the ability to subsequently communicate with each other in order to jointly agree on various matters relating to the child’s daily care, upbringing and education.

The list of certified mediators engaged in the project is available at: Link opens in new windowhttp://sertificetimediatori.lv/

Last update: 13/03/2019

The national language version of this page is maintained by the respective EJN contact point. The translations have been done by the European Commission service. Possible changes introduced in the original by the competent national authority may not be yet reflected in the translations. Neither the EJN nor the European Commission accept responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to any information or data contained or referred to in this document. Please refer to the legal notice to see copyright rules for the Member State responsible for this page.

Cross-border family mediation - Luxembourg

Legislation

Family mediation is governed by theLink opens in new window Law of 24 February 2012 on civil and commercial mediation and the Link opens in new windowGrand-ducal Regulation of 25 June 2012 on the procedure for the approval of legal and family mediators, the specific mediation training programme and the holding of a free information session

Article 1251-1(2) of the New Code of Civil Procedure sets out the matters in which ‘family mediation’ can be proposed to the parties by a court. These are:

- divorce, separation of a married couple and separation of a couple in a registered partnership, including liquidation, the division of joint property and undivided ownership;
- maintenance obligations, contributions to household expenses, child support and parental authority.

Procedure

The parties may have recourse to agreed mediation (médiation conventionnelle) or to judicial family mediation (médiation judiciaire familiale). Agreed mediation can be initiated by either of the parties, whatever the subject-matter, subject to Article 1251-22(2) of the New Code of Civil Procedure, without any legal or arbitration proceedings. The arrangements for the mediation process are set out in a written agreement signed by the parties and the mediator. For agreed mediation, the parties may have recourse to a mediator approved by the Minister for Justice or to another mediator.

When a dispute in one of the categories listed in Article 1251-1(2) of the New Code of Civil Procedure is submitted to a court, the court may propose family mediation to the parties. The court orders a free information session conducted by an approved mediator, or by a mediator who has a dispensation from the requirement for approval in Luxembourg on condition that they fulfil the equivalent or essentially comparable requirements in another Member State of the European Union in accordance with the third subparagraph of Article 1251-3(1) of the New Code of Civil Procedure. Subsequent meetings cost €57 (the figure is laid down by Grand-ducal Regulation). The court sets the duration of the mediation, which may not exceed three months. However, it can be extended by agreement between the parties. Individuals who have insufficient resources can obtain financial assistance for any judicial family mediation process.

It is important to note that agreements arrived at by such mediation have the same evidential value as court rulings. Such mediation agreements, whether reached abroad or at the national level, can be enforced within the European Union under Directive 2008/52/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 21 May 2008 on certain aspects of mediation in civil and commercial matters. The approval of the agreement in whole or in part by the presiding judge of a district court (tribunal d’arrondissement) renders the agreement enforceable. In family mediation cases the judge checks that the agreement is compatible with public policy and that it is not contrary to the interests of the children, that the dispute is appropriate for resolution by means of mediation, and that the mediator has been approved for this purpose by the Minister for Justice.

Useful links:

Link opens in new windowList of approved mediators

For general information on civil and commercial mediation:

Link opens in new windowMinistry of Justice

Last update: 14/10/2019

The national language version of this page is maintained by the respective EJN contact point. The translations have been done by the European Commission service. Possible changes introduced in the original by the competent national authority may not be yet reflected in the translations. Neither the EJN nor the European Commission accept responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to any information or data contained or referred to in this document. Please refer to the legal notice to see copyright rules for the Member State responsible for this page.

Cross-border family mediation - Hungary

Please visit the Mediation in Member States page, as it contains information on the mediation available in family matters.

Last update: 28/07/2017

The national language version of this page is maintained by the respective EJN contact point. The translations have been done by the European Commission service. Possible changes introduced in the original by the competent national authority may not be yet reflected in the translations. Neither the EJN nor the European Commission accept responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to any information or data contained or referred to in this document. Please refer to the legal notice to see copyright rules for the Member State responsible for this page.

Cross-border family mediation - Malta

Law regulating mediation

The applicable law in Malta is Chapter 474, namely the Link opens in new windowMediation Act.

What is mediation?

When a couple is in dispute with one another regarding family matters, they can ask for assistance from a mediator to help them reach an amicable settlement without recourse to formal proceedings in Court. Under Maltese law, mediation is a compulsory step the couple has to go through before instituting proceedings for separation before the Civil Court (Family Section).

Who is the mediator and what is his role?

The mediator is there to help the parties reach an amicable settlement. He is an impartial and independent person appointed by Court. In some cases, the parties choose the mediator themselves against a fee. Mediators are all professionally qualified to act as such. Most of them are also family therapists, social workers or lawyers.

A mediator can never provide evidence in Court as to what was said in mediation proceedings if the parties proceed to a Court case.

Who can apply for mediation?

Mediation can be used in the following cases:

  • for separation or divorce (provided that for divorce the spouses would have been living apart for four years or more);
  • for maintenance from his/her spouse;
  • to regulate matters regarding a child born out of wedlock, for example care and custody, visitation rights and maintenance;
  • to change his/her contract of separation or divorce;
  • to change his/her contract that regulates his/her child care and custody, visitation rights or maintenance.

One does not have to be married to apply for mediation.

How do mediation proceedings start and what do they consist of?

To have recourse to mediation, the interested party must file a letter, addressed to the Court Registrar, requesting permission to start the mediation proceedings. The letter must contain both parties' names and addresses and at least the identification card number of the person submitting such letter. The letter does not need the signature of a lawyer to be valid. This letter is filed in the Family Court Registry and which process is completely free of charge.

Mediation can also be opened by a note, however this procedure is used when both parties involved are already agreeing on most legal matters. The note contains the same details of a letter, with the difference that the parties also present a contract drafted by their lawyers or common notary. The note must be signed by both parties together with their notary, or both their lawyers and their notary.

Once a letter or note is filed, a mediator is appointed from a list established by court. The mediator can also be privately chosen by the parties themselves in agreement. The mediator will send for the parties by post with a specific date for them to come to Court. Sessions are held in a private room with only the mediator and if the parties' wish, the parties' lawyers as well. Mediation does not require a lawyer to be present.

The mediator will explore with the parties the possibility of reconciliation. If the mediator feels that there is hope for the couple's marriage or relationship to succeed, he can send them to counselling and put the mediation on hold. If the parties feel that their marriage or relationship can no longer work, the mediator will then try to help the parties reach an agreement on their children and their assets.

If the parties do manage to reach an agreement, a contract is then drafted and read by the mediator, and if the parties are satisfied with the content of the contract, the mediator will then present the contract formally in the Registry so that it can be seen by the Judge. If the Judge approves the contract, the parties can then go to a notary, who will publish the contract and make it official.

If the parties are unable to agree, the mediation is closed and the parties are authorised to proceed with a Court case. Parties are to institute proceedings before the Civil Court (Family Section) within two months from when the mediation is closed. In case of failure to proceed within the said timeframe, the couple will have to commence proceedings through mediation once again.

What if one of the parties lives abroad?

A cross-border dispute shall be one in which at least one of the parties is domiciled or habitually resident in Malta and the other party is domiciled or habitually resident in another Member State on the date on which:

  • the parties agree to use mediation after the dispute has arisen;
  • mediation is ordered by court;
  • an obligation to use mediation arises under national law; or
  • in cases where a decree or order has been delivered by court, from the date of such decree or order.

In such an instance, the person residing or domiciled abroad shall either travels to Malta or give a power of attorney to his/her lawyer in Malta to represent him/her and then s/he travels to Malta just to sign the contract of separation. On the other hand, if the person domiciled or habitually resident in Malta does not know where his/her partner resides (example left Malta or abandoned his/her partner), s/he is to present a mediation letter stating such fact under oath, and the letter is closed immediately and a court case is instituted by the said individual against curators for the absentee, who are appointed by court.

Last update: 11/01/2018

The national language version of this page is maintained by the respective EJN contact point. The translations have been done by the European Commission service. Possible changes introduced in the original by the competent national authority may not be yet reflected in the translations. Neither the EJN nor the European Commission accept responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to any information or data contained or referred to in this document. Please refer to the legal notice to see copyright rules for the Member State responsible for this page.

Cross-border family mediation - Netherlands

Mediation is always permitted and is applied especially under civil law and public law. Mediation takes place on a voluntary basis. In the Netherlands, legislation is in preparation which includes measures to promote quality.

In the Netherlands, there are various registers of mediators. The MfN is the federation of the largest mediator associations and keeps an extensive register of mediators. The MfN register accepts only mediators complying with carefully considered quality criteria. For example, there is a code of conduct for mediators. The MfN site also contains independent information on mediation and mediators in the Netherlands.

A second register is the ADR international register. The website of this register enables mediators to be found and it includes information on mediation-related topics.

In the Netherlands, there is also the Mediation initiative in the legal system. This means that the district court or court of appeal where proceedings are in progress informs the parties involved of the possibility to opt for mediation. The court of appeal can also refer the parties to a parent consultation in which, through mediation, a possible solution to the problem can be sought.

Other authorities where information on mediation can be obtained are the Juridisch Loket (office for legal information and assistance) and the Raad voor de Rechtsbijstand (Council for Legal Aid).

Under certain circumstances, the costs of the mediation may be refunded in whole or in part.

Links

Link opens in new windowhttp://www.nmi-mediation.nl

Link opens in new windowhttp://www.adr-register.com/nl

Link opens in new windowhttp://www.rechtspraak.nl/hoe-werkt-het-recht/mediation-naast-rechtspraak

Link opens in new windowhttp://www.juridisch.nl

Link opens in new windowhttp://www.rechtsbijstand.nl

Last update: 23/10/2018

The national language version of this page is maintained by the respective EJN contact point. The translations have been done by the European Commission service. Possible changes introduced in the original by the competent national authority may not be yet reflected in the translations. Neither the EJN nor the European Commission accept responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to any information or data contained or referred to in this document. Please refer to the legal notice to see copyright rules for the Member State responsible for this page.

Cross-border family mediation - Austria

In Austrian family law cases, the court does its best to reach an amicable settlement. To this end, it can also order an initial briefing on mediation or recommend mediation (Section 107(3), No 2 of the Non-Contentious Proceedings Act, Außerstreitgesetz). Although binational mediator teams satisfy the requirements of family mediation in Austria, they must be put together on an ad-hoc basis via the Federal Ministry of Justice (Bundesministerium für Justiz), as the central authority, and private mediation associations.

 

Last update: 16/10/2019

The national language version of this page is maintained by the respective EJN contact point. The translations have been done by the European Commission service. Possible changes introduced in the original by the competent national authority may not be yet reflected in the translations. Neither the EJN nor the European Commission accept responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to any information or data contained or referred to in this document. Please refer to the legal notice to see copyright rules for the Member State responsible for this page.

Cross-border family mediation - Poland

Mediation proceedings in family, divorce and separation cases

Mediation is a voluntary, confidential form of dispute resolution whereby the parties to a conflict or dispute attempt by themselves to reach an agreement with the assistance of a neutral and impartial mediator. Matters to be discussed during mediation are up to the participants. Matters to be agreed upon may relate to: reconciliation of spouses, laying down conditions for separation, forms of parental authority, contact with children, meeting family needs, maintenance and child support, as well as property and housing issues. A mediation settlement may also provide for the issue of a passport, choice of the child’s education, contacts with extended family members and/or management of the child’s property.

Benefits of mediation

• Mediation helps to reduce the level of negative emotions and understand one's own and each other’s needs, thus reducing the psychological burden associated with the conflict.

How is a matter referred to mediation?

• Mediation may be conducted before the matter is brought before the court or after the proceedings are initiated, on the basis of a court decision.

• In any case, mediation is subject to the consent of the parties.

• Each party may apply for mediation at any stage of court proceedings.

Who decides on the choice of a mediator?

• A mediator is chosen jointly by the parties or appointed by the court, considering in the first place individuals from the list of permanent mediators.

How long may mediation go on for?

• Mediation proceedings which have been instituted under a court decision should not last longer than 3 months, but may be extended upon a joint request or for any other valid reason if that facilitates settlement.

The mediation process

• Upon receipt of a court decision, the mediator contacts the parties in order to set the date and place of a meeting.

• The mediator explains the rules and the course of mediation proceedings and asks the parties if they agree to mediation.

• Mediation is a discussion between the parties in the presence of a mediator. One-on-one meetings may also be held between the mediator and any of the parties.

• The parties may decide not to take part in mediation.

• Mediation is confidential. The mediator must not disclose details of the mediation to third parties. Mediation minutes do not contain any judgements or positions of the parties.

• A mediator may not act as a witness with regard to the facts of which he or she becomes aware as a result of conducting the mediation, unless the parties release him or her from the obligation of secrecy.

What are the possible outcomes of mediation?

• Mediation may result in a mutually acceptable settlement signed by the parties.

• In divorce or separation cases, mediation may result in reconciliation of and/or agreement between the spouses, or in developing shared legal positions. These provide a basis for the resolution of the case by the court.

• The mediator serves a copy of the minutes on the parties.

• The mediator submits the minutes and any settlement reached to the court.

• A mediation settlement approved by the court has the legal validity of a court settlement and ends the proceedings.

• The court will refuse to approve the settlement if the settlement is contrary to the law or the principles of community life, intended to circumvent the law, confusing or contains contradictions.

• If a settlement which has been declared enforceable has not been actually enforced, it may be referred to a court-appointed enforcement officer.

• If no settlement is reached, the parties may seek to exercise their rights in court proceedings.

What is the cost of mediation?

  • The costs of mediation are borne by the parties. Each party usually pays half of the costs, unless the parties agree otherwise.
  • A party may request exemption from the costs of mediation.
  • Regardless of the outcome of the case, the court may order a party to reimburse the costs arising out of a manifestly unreasonable refusal to engage in mediation.
  • If a settlement is reached before the commencement of the court hearing, 100 % of the court fee will be refunded to the party.
  • If a settlement is reached before the mediator at a later stage of the proceedings (following the commencement of the court hearing), 75 % of the court fee will be reimbursed.
  • In a divorce or separation case, if the parties are reconciled before the court of first instance and withdraw the action, 100 % of the court fee paid when the case was brought to court will be reimbursed. If the parties have been reconciled before the conclusion of the proceedings before the court of second instance, 50 % of the fee paid for the appeal will be reimbursed.
  • In the case of out-of-court mediation, the mediator’s remuneration is set by the mediation centre or the parties agree on it with the mediator before the mediation begins.
Last update: 20/05/2019

The national language version of this page is maintained by the respective EJN contact point. The translations have been done by the European Commission service. Possible changes introduced in the original by the competent national authority may not be yet reflected in the translations. Neither the EJN nor the European Commission accept responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to any information or data contained or referred to in this document. Please refer to the legal notice to see copyright rules for the Member State responsible for this page.

Cross-border family mediation - Portugal

FAMILY MEDIATION IN PORTUGAL


Principle of voluntary participation and approval of the agreement

In Portugal mediation is voluntary. The parties in a family dispute concerning children or spouses can use public or private family mediation by mutual agreement. The court can also refer the parties to mediation, but it cannot impose it without their consent. Family mediation can be accessed before an action is lodged in court or in the Civil Register Office (Conservatória do Registo Civil), or after the action is already pending. In either case, the agreement relating to family matters must be approved to be enforceable. The parties' representatives (if any) can also attend the mediation sessions — and in practice sometimes do so.. Law No 29/2013 of 19/4 details the general principles applicable to mediation.

Mediation in court

If the parties access family mediation before bringing an action and if an agreement is reached, they should request the Civil Register Office of their choice to approve the agreement. Such agreements may cover matters concerning the spouses (e.g. divorce, maintenance payments between the spouses, family home, use of the surname of the ex-spouse) and matters concerning the children (e.g. agreement relating to parental responsibility attached to a divorce agreement or agreement for maintenance payments for adult offspring). Before approval by the registry office, the Public Prosecutor's Office (Ministério Público) will issue an opinion on the agreement, insofar as it relates to parental responsibility for minors.

If mediation takes place before bringing an action to court and if its sole purpose is to agree on parental responsibility for minors (without an enclosed divorce agreement or judicial separation), the parties will have to request the competent court to approve the agreement.

If family mediation takes place while a judicial action is pending, it will proceed as follows:

  • In judicial actions concerning parental responsibility (e.g. custody, visits, maintenance allowances for minors), there is a specialised technical hearing and mediation stage. After being summoned to a meeting by a judge, should the parties not reach an agreement, the judge will adjourn the talks for a period of between two and three months and will refer the parties to one of the following alternative mechanisms: mediation, as long as the parties consent or request the referral; or a specialised technical hearing, to be undertaken by the technical support services of the court. Once the adjournment period has expired, talks will recommence and, should an agreement have been reached by one of the above methods, the judge will consider and approve the agreement. If there is no agreement, the case will proceed to the litigation phase.
  • As a rule, in all civil actions, including those concerning spouses (e.g. divorce and judicial separation, maintenance payments between the spouses and ex-spouses, awarding the family home, when there is no initial agreement), Article 273 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Código de Processo Civil) allows the court to stay the proceedings and refer the case to mediation, unless either of the parties opposes the referral.
  • In accordance with Article 272(4) of the Code of Civil Procedure, the parties may also request to stay the proceedings by mutual agreement for a period of three months and access mediation of their own initiative.

If an agreement is reached through mediation while proceedings are pending in the cases described above, the parties must request its approval by the court.

Actions concerning family matters that fall under the competence of the public registrar must be brought with the prior agreement of both parties, otherwise they will fall under the competence of the courts. For that reason, access to mediation at the initiative of the parties can be useful before initiating the proceedings. After initiating the proceedings in the civil register office, Article 14(3) of Decree-law No 272/2001 of 13/1 states that the registrar should inform the spouses seeking divorce of the existence of mediation services. This provision allows the parties, while the divorce proceedings by mutual consent are pending at the civil register office, to access mediation to reconcile the spouses or to review the agreement relating to parental responsibility, attached to the divorce agreement, when there is a motion from the Public Prosecutor's Office to that effect.

Choice of the public or private mediator, duration and cost of mediation

As a general rule, family mediation has a maximum length of three months, based on the principle contained in Article 272(4) of the Code of Civil Procedure. Only in exceptional and justified cases can mediation exceed this period.

If the parties access private mediation, they will have to pay the fees of the mediator. This amount, the rules and the mediation schedule are set in the mediation protocol signed by the parties and by the mediator at the start of mediation. The Ministry of Justice maintains a list of public and private mediators that the parties can check in order to choose a private mediator: http://www.dgpj.mj.pt/sections/gral/mediacao-publica.

In order to access public mediation, the parties should contact the Alternative Dispute Resolution Office (Gabinete de Resolução Alternativa de Conflitos) of the Directorate-General for Policy and Justice and request a pre-mediation session. The session can be booked by telephone, by email or via an online form. In the public pre-mediation session, a mediation protocol is signed between the parties and the mediator. A time period will be set, sessions will be scheduled and the procedural rules explained.

The cost of public family mediation is 50 euros for each of the parties, independently of the number of sessions scheduled. This fee of 50 euros is paid by each of the parties at the outset of the public mediation. The fees of mediators working through the public system are not paid by the parties. They are paid by the Directorate-General for Policy and Justice, according to a legal schedule.

Public mediation sessions can take place at the premises of the Directorate-General for Policy and Justice, or at premises made available in the municipality where the parties reside.

In public mediation, the parties can choose a mediator from a list of selected public mediators. If they do not do so, the Alternative Dispute Resolution Office of the Directorate-General of Policy and Justice will appoint one of the mediators from the public mediators list chosen by sequential order and considering the proximity to the area of residence of the parties. As a rule, this appointment is made electronically.

If the parties are entitled to legal aid, this may cover the cost of mediation.

Cross-border mediation and co-mediation

In the case of a cross-border dispute, which makes it impossible to have face-to-face sessions, it is possible to use the videoconferencing systems to facilitate mediation.

In Portugal, mediators from other Member-States can not only register to be included in the list of family mediators compiled by the Ministry of Justice (which includes public and private mediators), but they can also be selected for the list of public family mediators (by public tender). In both cases, this will be on the same conditions as those applicable to national mediators.

In Portugal, co-mediation is allowed, both in the public system and in the private mediation system. Co-mediation can take place by choice of the parties, or at the suggestion of the mediator, if he/she believes this is the best approach for the case.

Useful links

Please visit Link opens in new windowhttp://www.dgpj.mj.pt/sections/gral/mediacao-publica for: the link for national mediation legislation; the link to access the list of public and private family mediators; the link to access information on family mediation and mediation in general.

Requests for public mediation can be made by calling + 351 808 26 2000, by e-mail to Link opens in new windowsmf@gral.mj.pt, or via the online form found at Link opens in new windowhttp://smf.mj.pt/.

 

Final Note

Information contained in this factsheet is of a general character and is not exhaustive; it is not binding on the contact point, the European Judicial Network in civil and commercial matters, the courts or any other persons. It does not dispense with the need to check the applicable legal texts in force.

Last update: 28/01/2019

The national language version of this page is maintained by the respective EJN contact point. The translations have been done by the European Commission service. Possible changes introduced in the original by the competent national authority may not be yet reflected in the translations. Neither the EJN nor the European Commission accept responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to any information or data contained or referred to in this document. Please refer to the legal notice to see copyright rules for the Member State responsible for this page.

Cross-border family mediation - Romania

Law No 192/2006 regulates mediation and the organisation of the profession of mediator and includes general provisions, provisions on the profession of mediator (certification as a mediator, suspension and barring from service, the Mediation Council, organisation and practise of the profession of mediator, the mediator's rights and obligations, the mediator's liability), the mediation procedure (the procedure prior to concluding the mediation agreement, the mediation agreement, the mediation process, the completion of the mediation procedure), and special provisions on family disputes and criminal matters.

The parties may participate in the information meeting on the advantages of mediation, including, where applicable, after legal proceedings have been initiated before the competent court, with a view to settling disputes using this method. The proof of participation in the information meeting on the advantages of mediation is the information certificate issued by the mediator who delivered the information. The procedure for informing on the advantages of mediation may be conducted by the judge, the prosecutor, the legal adviser, the lawyer or the notary, and in such cases it is attested in writing.

The subject matter of mediation may not include strictly personal rights, such as those regarding a person's status, or any other rights the parties may not exercise pursuant to an agreement or any other act.

The mediation activity is conducted equally for all persons, irrespective of race, colour, nationality, ethnic origin, language, religion, gender, opinion, political membership, wealth or social origin.

Mediation is an activity of public interest. In the exercise of duties, the mediator does not have decision-making powers as to the content of the settlement to be reached by the parties, but he/she may guide them in verifying its lawfulness. Mediation may take place between two or several parties. Parties have the right to choose their mediator freely. Mediation may be conducted by one or several mediators. Judicial and arbitration bodies, and any other authorities vested with jurisdictional functions, inform the parties of the possibility and advantages of using the mediation procedure and urge them to use this means in order to settle their disputes.

The parties may ask the notary public to authenticate the settlement. The document drawn up by the notary public, authenticating the settlement in the mediation agreement, is enforceable.

The parties to the mediation agreement may appear before the court in order to apply for a decision that endorses their settlement. The competent authority is either the district court with jurisdiction where any of the parties has the domicile/place of residence/registered office or the district court with jurisdiction where the mediation agreement has been concluded. The decision whereby the court endorses the settlement of the parties is delivered in camera and is enforceable.

Special provisions on family disputes. Mediation can be used to settle disagreements between spouses as regards continuation of marriage, division of marital assets, the exercise of parental rights, establishment of the children's domicile, parents' child support contributions, or any other disagreements arising between spouses regarding rights they may enjoy by law. Mediation agreements concluded between parties in matters/disputes involving the exercise of parental rights, the parents' child support contributions, or establishment of the children's domicile take the form of consent judgments.

The spouses' agreement on the dissolution of marriage and the settlement of ancillary divorce issues is submitted by the parties to the court competent to issue a judgment of divorce.

The mediator ensures that the outcome of mediation is not contrary to the best interests of the child, encourages parents to focus first and foremost on the child's needs and ensures that taking parental responsibility or the de facto separation or divorce does not have a detrimental effect on the child’s upbringing and development.

Before concluding the mediation agreement or, where applicable, during the procedure, the mediator performs due diligence to check whether there is an abusive or violent relationship between the parties and whether the effects of such a state of affairs are likely to influence the mediation, and decides whether in such circumstances settlement by mediation is appropriate. If, during the mediation, the mediator becomes aware of facts that endanger the child’s upbringing or normal development or are considerably detrimental to the best interests of the child, he/she must report the issue to the competent authority.

Law No 217/2003 on preventing and combating domestic violence contains provisions on the institutions entrusted with duties in regard to preventing and combating domestic violence (whose duty is to guide the disputing parties towards mediation), the establishments for preventing and combating domestic violence (including support centres intended for aggressors, which provide counselling and family mediation services, with the possibility of subjecting domestic violence matters to mediation at the parties' request), the protection order and funding in the field of preventing and combating domestic violence.

Under civil proceedings, the judge recommends to the parties to settle their dispute amicably by mediation and, throughout the proceedings, he/she attempts to reconcile the parties, by providing them with the required guidance.

In disputes that may be subject to the mediation procedure, the judge may call for the parties to attend the information meeting on the advantages of using this procedure. Where he/she deems it necessary, considering the circumstances of the case, the judge recommends to the parties to use mediation in order to ensure the amicable settlement of the dispute at any stage of the court proceedings. Mediation is not mandatory for the parties.

If the judge recommends mediation, the parties (if they had not attempted to settle their dispute by mediation before they filed a lawsuit in court) are to appear before the mediator in order to be informed of the advantages of mediation. After receiving the information, the parties decide whether they accept to settle their dispute by mediation.

If the parties reconcile, the judge endorses their settlement in the judgment he/she delivers.

In the case of divorce, the application for divorce may be accompanied by the agreement reached by the spouses through mediation on the dissolution of marriage and, where applicable, on the settlement of ancillary divorce issues.

Law No 272/2004 on the protection and promotion of children's rights includes provisions on children's rights (civil rights and freedoms, alternative family environment and care, child's health and welfare, education, and recreational and cultural activities), provisions on special protection for children who are temporarily or permanently deprived of their parents' protection (fostering, emergency fostering, specialised supervision, and monitoring the application of special protection measures), provisions on the protection of children (refugees or in the event of armed conflict, children who have committed a criminal offence but are not held liable under criminal law, against abuse, neglect, or exploitation, including economic exploitation, against drug abuse and any form of violence, children whose parents are abroad for work, and against kidnapping or any form of trafficking), provisions on institutions and services entrusted with duties in the area of child protection at central and local level, private organisations, and funding for the child protection system.

The public social care service has the obligation to take the required action in order to ensure the early detection of risk situations that can result in a child being separated from his/her parents and to prevent abusive behaviours from parents and domestic violence. Any case of a child being separated from his/her parents and any restriction of the exercise of parental rights must be preceded by the systematic provision of services and benefits provided for by law, with particular emphasis on properly informing the parents and counselling them, and therapy or mediation provided under a service scheme.

Last update: 02/09/2016

The national language version of this page is maintained by the respective EJN contact point. The translations have been done by the European Commission service. Possible changes introduced in the original by the competent national authority may not be yet reflected in the translations. Neither the EJN nor the European Commission accept responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to any information or data contained or referred to in this document. Please refer to the legal notice to see copyright rules for the Member State responsible for this page.

Cross-border family mediation - Slovenia

Mediation in Slovenia is regulated by the Link opens in new windowMediation in Civil and Commercial Matters Act (Zakon o mediaciji v civilnih in gospodarskih zadevah - ZMCGZ; Uradni list RS (Official Gazette of the RS); UL RS No 56/08) which is, pursuant to its Article 2(1), used for mediation in family matters concerning claims which parties can freely agree upon and settle. In addition, the Link opens in new windowAct on Alternative Dispute Resolution in Judicial Matters (Zakon o alternativnem reševanju sodnih sporov - ZARSS; UL RS Nos 97/09 and 40/12 - ZUJF) applies to family relationships, and pursuant to that Act the court must allow mediation between parties to a legal dispute.

Article 22(1) of the ZARSS provides that mediation in disputes concerning the relationship between parents and children is free of charge because fees for the mediator and his/her travelling costs are covered in full by the court - not by the parties. This also applies to cases when in the mediation, together with the dispute concerning the relationship between parents and children, the property relationship between spouses is being resolved.

Pursuant to Article 2 of the Link opens in new windowRules on mediators in the programmes of the court (Pravilnik o mediatorjih v programih sodišč; UL RS Nos 22/10 and 35/13), the court managing the list of mediators under the ZARSS decides, in line with the needs of the programme, the maximum number of mediators which can be entered on the list for a particular area. For mediation in family matters, the court must, with regard to the number of mediators on the list, pay regard to the fact that mediation in disputes concerning relationships between parents and children can be conducted by two mediators, one of whom has passed the bar examination while the other demonstrates expert knowledge and experience in the field of psychology or another similar field.

Our laws do not contain other regulations concerning mediation in family matters. The new Family Code should set out mediation in family matters in greater detail.

The list of mediators for areas and individual courts is accessible on the web site of individual courts, as well as on the web site of the Ministry of Justice, which keeps the central record of mediators participating in court programmes under the ZARSS.

Related web links:

Link opens in new windowGeneral information on mediation (we do not have a separate link for family mediation)

Link opens in new windowCentral record of mediators

Last update: 23/03/2018

The national language version of this page is maintained by the respective EJN contact point. The translations have been done by the European Commission service. Possible changes introduced in the original by the competent national authority may not be yet reflected in the translations. Neither the EJN nor the European Commission accept responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to any information or data contained or referred to in this document. Please refer to the legal notice to see copyright rules for the Member State responsible for this page.

Cross-border family mediation - Slovakia

1. General information on mediation

In the Slovak Republic, family law mediation takes place only on the basis of voluntary participation; it is carried out by mediators who are not specialised in family law. A court is not obliged to order or recommend mediation to settle a dispute. A court may only advise parties to try mediation to settle a dispute.

2. Link to list of mediators in Slovakia

A link to the Slovak website where a list of mediators can be found is available at Link opens in new windowhttp://www.komoramediatorov.sk/, where members of the Slovak Chamber of Mediators (Slovenská komora mediátorov) are listed, as well as at Link opens in new windowhttp://www.najpravo.sk/, where mediators are listed by the region or district in which they are located. A complete list of mediators who have completed professional training to work as mediators is available on the website of the Justice Ministry of the Slovak Republic (Ministerstvo spravodlivosti Slovenskej republiky) Link opens in new windowhttp://www.justice.gov.sk/.

3. Link to website on family law mediation and mediation in general

General information on mediation is available on the website of the Slovak Chamber of Mediators:Link opens in new windowhttp://www.komoramediatorov.sk/, as well as at Link opens in new windowhttp://www.najpravo.sk/.

4. Link to Slovak legislation

Special national legislation on family law mediation has not yet been adopted. Mediation proceedings in this field — as well as in all other fields where mediation is allowed for out‑of‑court dispute resolution — take place pursuant to Link opens in new windowAct No 420/2004 on mediation and amending certain acts.

Last update: 10/07/2019

The national language version of this page is maintained by the respective EJN contact point. The translations have been done by the European Commission service. Possible changes introduced in the original by the competent national authority may not be yet reflected in the translations. Neither the EJN nor the European Commission accept responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to any information or data contained or referred to in this document. Please refer to the legal notice to see copyright rules for the Member State responsible for this page.

Cross-border family mediation - Finland

Finland has three different family mediation procedures: 1) out-of-court mediation, 2) court mediation as an independent procedure, and 3) mediation as part of the implementation of a decision concerning the custody of a child or rights of access.

1. Out-of-court mediation

Pursuant to the Marriage Act (234/1929), disputes and legal matters arising within a family should primarily be settled in negotiations between the family members and decided by agreement. If family members need outside help in settling disputes, they may seek help from family mediators made available by municipal social welfare boards. In most cases, family mediators appointed to the task are employees of developmental and family counselling services and other social services. Family mediation is a separate procedure from other social and family counselling services with the aim of finding solutions to disputes between the parties through mutual discussion and negotiation. In addition to municipalities, mediation services are provided by family counselling centres of the Church as well as other organisations and individuals authorised to engage in mediation.

The specific task of the mediator is to safeguard children’s rights in cases of divorce. The mediator helps the parents to amicably arrange any issues related to children. This means, among other things, agreements on whether children remain in the joint custody of both parents, who the children live with and how they meet the other parent, and how the parents will share responsibility for providing for their children. If the parents reach agreement, the mediator helps them to draw up a contract. For the agreement to be enforceable, the mediator asks the parents to have it confirmed by a child welfare officer. A confirmed agreement is equivalent to a court decision.

Family mediation is voluntary, confidential and free of charge. The whole family or the spouses jointly or separately may contact family mediation services.

2. Court mediation

Courts can mediate in matters related to the custody, housing, rights of access and financial support relating to children (section 10 of the Act on mediation in civil matters and confirmation of settlements in general courts, 394/2011). Mediation is a separate procedure from legal proceedings. It is voluntary, but it requires the consent of both parents. It is quicker and cheaper than court proceedings.

Mediation is initiated when the parties request mediation from a court. It is also possible to refer to mediation a case from court proceedings that have already started. Mediation can be terminated at any stage. The mediator is a judge assisted by an expert, usually a psychologist or a social worker. Parties to mediation may be assisted by a lawyer of their own choosing or other assistant. For court mediation, it is possible to apply for legal assistance from State funds to cover the compensation of the assistant. In court mediation, the best interests of children must be safeguarded. In judging whether an agreement can be confirmed, the court must consider the Act on child custody and right of access (361/1983) and the Child Maintenance Act (704/1975). A confirmed agreement is equivalent to a court decision. If an agreement cannot be reached, the court closes the case. If the case has been referred to mediation from court proceedings, it is returned to court proceedings if mediation proves unsuccessful.

3. Mediation as part of an implementation process

This form of mediation is available only when one of the parents has initiated an implementation process in the district court. In this case, a court decision already exists, but it has not been complied with by the other parent.

Pursuant to the Act on the implementation of decisions on child custody and right of access (619/1996), the court principally determines the mediator in cases when the implementation of a decision concerning custody or right of access has been sought from the court. The mediator is usually a psychologist familiar with child psychology, a social worker familiar with child protection or a child welfare officer. The purpose of mediation is to facilitate collaboration of the parents of the children or other interested parties with a view to ensuring the children’s well-being. The mediator arranges a meeting between the parents and talks in private with the child (or children) in order to find out their wishes and opinions, if this is possible considering the age and level of development of the child (or children). The mediator prepares a report about the mediation for the court. If the mediation does not lead to an agreement between the parents, the court gives a ruling in the case based, among other things, on the mediator’s report.

About mediators

Arranging family mediation is the responsibility of the municipal social welfare boards. For contact details of municipalities, see: Link opens in new windowhttp://www.kunnat.net/fi/Yhteystiedot/kunta-alan-yhteystiedot/kunnat/Sivut/default.aspx

The Finnish Bar Association trains lawyers to act as mediators in family law disputes:

Link opens in new windowhttp://www.asianajajaliitto.fi/asianajopalvelut/etsi_asianajaja

Court mediation is the responsibility of district courts. For the contact details of district courts, see the website of the Judicial Administration: Link opens in new windowhttp://oikeus.fi/tuomioistuimet/karajaoikeudet/fi/index/yhteystiedot.html

About mediation

Mediation on the website of the Judicial Administration: Link opens in new windowhttp://oikeus.fi/fi/index/esitteet/perheasioidensovittelu.html

Ministry of Justice brochure on court mediation of custody disputes:

Link opens in new windowhttps://oikeus.fi/en/index/esitteet/expert-assistedmediationofcustodydisputes_2.html

English brochure: Link opens in new windowhttps://oikeus.fi/en/index/esitteet/expert-assistedmediationofcustodydisputes_2.html

National Institute for Health and Welfare, Child Protection Handbook, family mediation:

Link opens in new windowhttps://www.thl.fi/fi/web/lastensuojelun-kasikirja/tyoprosessi/erityiskysymykset/lapsen-asema-erotilanteessa/perheasioiden-sovittelu

Procedure for the amicable settlement of family law matters from the Finnish Bar Association:

Link opens in new windowhttp://www.asianajajaliitto.fi/asianajopalvelut/sovintomenettely/sovintomenettely_perheasioissa

Finnish Forum for Mediation:

Link opens in new windowhttp://www.ssf-ffm.com/index.php

National legislation

Separate provisions on family mediation are included in the following Acts:

Marriage Act (234/1929):

Link opens in new windowhttp://www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/ajantasa/1929/19290234?search%5btype%5d=pika&search%5bpika%5d=avioliittolaki#O1L5

Act on child custody and right of access (361/1983):

Link opens in new windowhttp://www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/ajantasa/1983/19830361

Act on the implementation of decisions on child custody and right of access (619/1996):

Link opens in new windowhttp://www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/ajantasa/1996/19960619

Act on mediation in civil matters and confirmation of settlements in general courts (394/2011):

Link opens in new windowhttp://www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/ajantasa/2011/20110394

Last update: 08/02/2018

The national language version of this page is maintained by the respective EJN contact point. The translations have been done by the European Commission service. Possible changes introduced in the original by the competent national authority may not be yet reflected in the translations. Neither the EJN nor the European Commission accept responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to any information or data contained or referred to in this document. Please refer to the legal notice to see copyright rules for the Member State responsible for this page.

Cross-border family mediation - Sweden

Family mediation

It is a general principle of Swedish law that consensual solutions are considered best for the child. The rules have therefore been formulated in such a way that an attempt must first be made to persuade parents to agree on matters that affect their children.

Whom to contact

The social services have special responsibility and must, among other things, offer parents conciliation (samarbetssamtal). The aim of the conciliation process is to help the parents reach an agreement; see further information on Link opens in new windowconciliation. If the parents agree, their consensual solution can be incorporated into an agreement which is approved by the social services. The courts also have a responsibility to try first to reach a consensual agreement between the parents. If this does not succeed, the court may order conciliation or mediation (medling).

In what area is recourse to mediation admissible or most common?

Family mediation in cases before a court is intended to be used where, for example, conciliation has not produced a result but there is still thought to be a possibility that the parents will agree in matters affecting their children.

Are there specific rules to follow?

It is for the court to decide who will be appointed as mediator. A decision ordering mediation does not in itself require the consent of the parents, but it can be difficult for a mediator to carry out his or her task if a parent actively opposes the appointment of a mediator. The mediator will decide, in consultation with the court, how the mediation is to be organised. There is no code of conduct or similar arrangement for mediators.

Information and training

There is no national training organisation for mediators.

What does mediation cost?

Mediators are entitled to reasonable remuneration for their work, time and expenses. This remuneration is paid by the State.

Last update: 12/09/2016

The national language version of this page is maintained by the respective EJN contact point. The translations have been done by the European Commission service. Possible changes introduced in the original by the competent national authority may not be yet reflected in the translations. Neither the EJN nor the European Commission accept responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to any information or data contained or referred to in this document. Please refer to the legal notice to see copyright rules for the Member State responsible for this page.

Cross-border family mediation - England and Wales

Family mediation procedure

Family mediation is a voluntary process. However, from April 2014 in England and Wales, all applicants (not just those in receipt of public funding) have to consider the use of mediation by attending a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) before they can make an application to the court, unless exeptions apply such as domestic violence. The prospective respondent is expected to attend if invited to do so. If the applicant continues to court they should complete the relevant section on their application to show that they are either exempt from attending a MIAM, that they attended a MIAM and mediation was not considered suitable, or they attended mediation and it broke down or they were unable to resolve all the issues.

Additional public information materials on family mediation is available on the Link opens in new windowUK Government website.

Legal aid remains available for family mediation and for legal advice to support family mediation. You can find out more about legal aid, including whether you may eligible for legal aid at the following Link opens in new windowwebsite.

Family mediation profession

Family mediation is a self-regulated profession which consists of a number of membership organisations to which mediators are affiliated. These member organisations are represented by the 'umbrella' organisation, the Family Mediation Council (FMC). The FMC was established to harmonise standards for family mediation in England and Wales and represents its member organisations and family mediation practitioners in the dealings of the profession with government.

Family mediators come from a number of backgrounds, including legal, therapeutic and social services. The various membership/accreditation organisations maintain their own sets of training and professional standards, which feature training requirements. The Family Mediation Standards Board (FMSB) has been established to monitor and regulate family mediation standards of the FMC member organisations.

The FMC is a non-governmental body and plays a central role among its member organisations, which are non-governmental organisations/associations and founder members of the FMC. The most prominent of these are:

Link opens in new windowADR Group

Link opens in new windowFamily Mediators Association

Link opens in new windowNational Family Mediation

Link opens in new windowCollege of Mediators

Link opens in new windowResolution

Link opens in new windowThe Law Society

You can find an accredited family mediator on the Link opens in new windowFMC website.

You can identify a mediator in your local area by accessing the 'Link opens in new windowFind a Local Mediator' tool.

Last update: 27/12/2018

The national language version of this page is maintained by the respective EJN contact point. The translations have been done by the European Commission service. Possible changes introduced in the original by the competent national authority may not be yet reflected in the translations. Neither the EJN nor the European Commission accept responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to any information or data contained or referred to in this document. Please refer to the legal notice to see copyright rules for the Member State responsible for this page.

Cross-border family mediation - Northern Ireland

Family mediation procedure

Family mediation is an entirely voluntary process and there is currently no requirement in Northern Ireland to consider resolving a dispute through mediation before making an application to the court. However the courts are supportive and will encourage its use in appropriate cases. Although the process to be applied is not specified statutorily, the courts are likely to permit an adjournment in cases where it appears issues could be resolved through mediation. Parties can also apply to the court to have a mediated agreement made enforceable as if it were an order of the court.

Public funding is available in some cases. The Legal Services Agency Northern Ireland has met the cost of some mediation from legal aid funds and the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety currently provides funding for pre-court mediation in family disputes. Further information can be obtained from the website of Link opens in new windowFamily Support Northern Ireland.

Family mediation profession

Training and accreditation is not regulated by government. The profession is self-regulating and qualification and experience requirements vary across affiliate professional organisations. Further information can be obtained from provider websites and the information booklet Alternatives to Court in Northern Ireland available on the Link opens in new windowNI Direct website.

Last update: 16/05/2018

The national language version of this page is maintained by the respective EJN contact point. The translations have been done by the European Commission service. Possible changes introduced in the original by the competent national authority may not be yet reflected in the translations. Neither the EJN nor the European Commission accept responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to any information or data contained or referred to in this document. Please refer to the legal notice to see copyright rules for the Member State responsible for this page.

Cross-border family mediation - Scotland

Family mediation profession

The Scottish Government encourages the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), including mediation, to resolve family disputes although mediation is not appropriate where there has been domestic abuse. Family mediation is generally a voluntary process. There is no obligation in Scotland to use ADR or mediation although once a family case is in court, the judge may ask for mediation to be undertaken.

If you wish to enforce the content of a mediation agreement in Scotland, either of the following procedures may be followed:

• You can apply to the Court of Session or a Sheriff Court to ask the Court to “interpone” its authority to the mediated agreement. This means the court uses its powers to change the mediation agreement into a court order.

• Alternatively, “self-proving” written agreements can be registered for execution in the Books of Council and Session or in Sheriff Court Books. A self-proving document is one which meets the formalities to be treated as signed without needing proof. Rules about self-proving documents are contained in the Requirements of Writing (Scotland) Act 1995. To register the agreement in the Books of Council and Session, you should apply to the Keeper of the Link opens in new windowRegisters of Scotland.

When an agreement is registered for execution, the document becomes an authentic instrument.

Agreements that have been endorsed by the Court or registered by either of the methods outlined above may be enforceable in other EU Member States.

Information on Mediation in Scotland can be found on the Link opens in new windowScottish Mediation Network website.

 

National legislation on family mediation

As there is no obligation to use mediation in family disputes, there is relatively little national legislation.

However, the Link opens in new windowCivil Evidence (Family Mediation) (Scotland) Act 1995 makes provision on the inadmissibility as evidence in civil proceedings in Scotland of information as to what occurred during family mediation.

Last update: 30/04/2019

The national language version of this page is maintained by the respective EJN contact point. The translations have been done by the European Commission service. Possible changes introduced in the original by the competent national authority may not be yet reflected in the translations. Neither the EJN nor the European Commission accept responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to any information or data contained or referred to in this document. Please refer to the legal notice to see copyright rules for the Member State responsible for this page.

Cross-border family mediation - Gibraltar

Family mediation is a voluntary process. The Courts in Gibraltar do encourage mediation in cases where there is a real possibility that mediation will assist the parties to resolve or narrow down their differences. There are various legal practitioners who are qualified mediators. They can be instructed to mediate in family disputes. In addition, the Family and Children Team of the Social Services also undertake mediation with parties that are referred to them by the Courts. There is no legislation on family mediation.

There is no website on which a list of family mediators can be found nor is there one that provides information on family mediation or mediation in general.

Last update: 01/04/2019

The national language version of this page is maintained by the respective EJN contact point. The translations have been done by the European Commission service. Possible changes introduced in the original by the competent national authority may not be yet reflected in the translations. Neither the EJN nor the European Commission accept responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to any information or data contained or referred to in this document. Please refer to the legal notice to see copyright rules for the Member State responsible for this page.