Mediation and international parental child abduction

Reunite International offers a mediation service in cases of cross-border family disputes involving children. However it does not currently maintain contact with the families that use the service so had no evidence to suggest whether or not the Memoranda of Understanding reached within mediation are honoured, or even work in practice, or that mediation is an effective dispute resolution tool in the long-term.

This study was designed to evaluate and measure the long-term effectiveness of mediation in those cases resolved through Reunite International'specialist mediation service.
Key findings

  • In resolved cases, in general, both parents managed to maintain positive relationships with their children.
  • The arrangements recorded in the MoU had been complied with in terms of residence and contact, and in relation to travel, school, medical and financial issues, and provided families with a significant framework to adhere to.
  • In a majority of resolved cases the mediation process, and subsequent MoU, had provided those involved with an enduring template for their family relationships in the years following mediation.
  • Parents in resolved cases reported that mediation had acted as a turning point and as a point of stability which guided their future conduct.
  • There was no pattern of continued further litigation occurring in resolved cases.
  • In unresolved cases, communication between the parents was minimal or non-existent, with much lower levels of trust than those found in resolved cases and consequently, worsening levels of conflict and of joint problem solving.
  • In unresolved cases, many parents reported relationships with their children as 'damaged' with underlying lack of trust between parents 'frequently played out via their children'.
  • Parents in unresolved cases felt pressured to mediate by Judges, legal advisers or ex-partners
  • There was a pattern of continued further litigation occurring in unresolved cases.
  • Overall, both taking and left-behind parents were positive about the mediation process operated by reunite and were complimentary about the skills of reunite mediators.
Project details



Denise Carter OBE, Director, Reunite International

Grant amount and duration


November 2009 - October 2010