Arguments & fights
over children

Crossing boundaries

Central Contact Point for Cross-border Family Conflicts

ZAnK - Zentrale Anlaufstelle für grenzüberschreitende Kindschaftskonflikte

Why a Central Contact Point for Cross-Border Family Conflicts?

Starting situation

Every year, in Germany as well as worldwide, a great many parents are fighting over custody and the right of access of their children. Several hundreds of children every year are abducted to and from Germany as a result of unresolved family conflicts. The abductor usually is one of the parents.

Many parents say that they feel left alone, that their requests and concerns are misunderstood, or that they do not receive sufficient counseling. The more time-consuming and hopeless the proceedings, the more likely it is that parents will turn to different agencies because they are desperate and they think that another agency will help them better or more quickly: the police, youth welfare offices, lawyers, counseling agencies, the Central Authority, ministries, politicians and, last but not least, they will appeal to the press. Being filled with the desire to reach their goal and to enforce their rights, it may happen that parents lose sight of other things which are perhaps more realistic, e.g. to maintain frequent contact with their child.

Family conflict cases with an international dimension pose an additional challenge also for professionals working in this field. The language barrier, different values and conflict resolution mechanisms based on cultural traditions, or the different laws or international law as well as the geographical distance, which make it impossible to apply conflict resolution concepts which have previously been helpful – all these are factors which have to be taken into consideration.

Consequences

In 2009, the Kinderkommission (Commission of Children) of the German Bundestag reacted to these problems by requesting to establish a Central Contact Point which should have the function of “pilot”, offering advice and assistance to parents in child abduction cases.

At the same time, the “Working Party on Mediation in the Context of the Malta Process” developed specific criteria for establishing a “Central Contact Point for International Family Mediation”, and specified the requirements to be met by mediators who mediate in family conflicts with an international dimension.

Outcome

On 15th November 2011, representatives of the competent federal ministries (Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth; the Federal Foreign Office; the Federal Ministry of Justice; the Federal Ministry of the Interior; and the Interior Ministers’ Conference) entrusted the German Branch of International Social Service, which is part of the German Association for Public and Private Welfare, with the function of Central Contact Point for Cross-border Family Conflicts as well as the function of Central Contact Point for International Family Mediation in the context ofthe Malta Process.




 

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