An Evaluation of the Long-term Effectiveness of Mediation in Cases of International Parental Child Abduction




Journal Title

Journal ISSN



Volume Title





Peer reviewed



This research report focuses on capturing the long-term effectiveness of mediation as deployed by reunite, the UK's main NGO that provides advice on international parental child abduction cases brought under the Hague Convention of 1980. The aim was to see whether the mediation model operated by reunite has worked over time. The main research tool used was the use of in-depth telephone interviews with individuals who had participated in reunite’s mediation process from January 2003 to December 2009. 52 individuals were interviewed between September 2010 and August 2011, using a semi-structured interview guide which is reproduced as Appendix 1 of this report. Overall (see Table 7.1, at p. 27) the dataset comprised: 29 men, 23 women; 22 taking parents and 30 left-behind parents; and at the time of our interview work 21 of the total dataset could be classed as the residential parent and 31 the contact parent.

Our second and supplementary research tool was a system of case reading by the research team – there were regular meetings set up after a batch of transcripts had been pre-read and where reunite’s case file was available to supplement and provide further information about the chronology and process of each case under consideration. An important element in the architecture of this report is the distinction that we draw between: i) cases where the mediation was completed – i.e. an MoU had been reached and quickly followed by a consent order in the courts: we call these ‘resolved cases’ in the report; and ii) cases where the mediation was not completed, i.e. where it was not agreed in mediation and had to be referred back to the courts for an authoritative decision: we call these ‘unresolved cases’ in the report. Of our overall set of 52 cases, we identified 29 that were ‘resolved’ and 23 that were ‘unresolved’ according to our definition. The analysis of all this material was further supported by the use of a computer-assisted qualitative data programme. A summary of the findings can be found on pp. 8-12 of the report in relation to both 'resolved' and 'unresolved' cases. Overall the key message of the report is that mediation in this specialised context should be used selectively and proportionately.


The Nuffield Foundation is an endowed charitable trust that aims to improve social well-being in the widest sense. It funds research and innovation in education and social policy and also works to build capacity in education, science and social science research. The Nuffield Foundation has funded this project, but the views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Foundation. More information is available at <>.


International parental child abduction, mediation, Hague Convention on Child Abduction 1980


Buck, T. (2012) An Evaluation of the Long-term Effectiveness of Mediation in Cases of International Parental Child Abduction, Leicester: Reunite


Research Institute