VOICE – project
Recent research (Bouncing Back; ensuring the wellbeing of children in case of international child abduction, 2017) has shown that children were positive about the possibility of being heard. However, being heard did not influence their wellbeing. And that is surprising. The research further showed that even when children had the opportunity of being heard, they were often unsatisfied with the way this hearing was conducted. Children complained about a lack of understanding about the ongoing proceedings and their role within these proceedings. The hearing was not age-appropriate (too childish for youngsters, too intimidating for children), they did not receive feedback on the actual result nor on the impact of their views and opinions on that decision.
The VOICE project wishes to specifically address these problems to ensure that when children are given the opportunity of being heard, it has an added value on their future life and empowers them as right holders.
The specific aim of the project will be to develop methods and tools for legal professionals and mediators across Europe to ensure that the voice of the child can be fully incorporated into the final decision (in court or in mediation).
Additionally, the project wishes to contribute to a more harmonized system of hearing children in cross-border family disputes by developing good practices and recommendations.
This two-year project started in September 2017 and is mid-term now.
The project involves an international partnership in which Missing Children Europe collaborates with the Universities of Antwerp, Genoa and Ghent, the Dutch Center for International Child Abduction, Child Focus in Belgium and the German mediation organization MiKK.
Within the course of this project, the partnership will organize 2 legal training courses and 2 mediation courses focussing on good practices for hearing children in cases of international child abduction. The project results will be disseminated at a closing conference on May 30th and 31st2019.