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Cross-Border Mediation Skills

Cross-Border Mediation Skills

What other skills do you use that are specific to cross-border mediation cases?

 

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The skills, I suppose the main. . . If you’re talking now specifically about a child abduction case say the first think you’re going to be meeting is. . . Look, all family mediations involve high levels of emotion and conflict, but I suppose the crisis that is caused by a child abduction, requires management on a whole other level.

 

You have the dynamic of the abducting parent being the bad guy and the left -behind parent being the victim. So that is going to have to be managed. You have high levels of fear on the part of both parents in relation to loss of contact with the children. Sometimes the left-behind parent won’t have actually seen the child or the children for quite a long time by the time they actually get to the mediation table.

 

Then you have the issue that you’re often working under very severe time constraints, because legal proceedings are pending maybe, or the parties can only travel for a weekend. So whereas in a domestic family mediation you might be able to sort of build rapport and use different skills over a period of weeks, it all often happens in the course of a weekend maybe.

 

The other kind of distinguishing factor, if you like, about international family mediations is that the preferred model is really one of co-mediation. But by co- mediation, the ideal model would be two mediators, one from each of the cultures of the parents involved, so if you have a German mother and an Irish father, you’d ideally like a German mediator and an Irish mediator. Preferably of course of different genders and preferably with a legal background and one with a psychosocial background. So somebody who has a background in psychology or social work or therapy or something similar. That’s sort of the ideal, if you like, in terms of a mediation team so really that you can cover all the angles in this situation.

 

I suppose the idea there is that obviously the two mediators work together and that by virtue of there being two mediators, and particularly, two mediators from the different cultural backgrounds of the parties. That both parties feel that their voices are to be understood in the process, not just literally in terms of language, although that can be an issue as well, but particularly in terms of cultural understanding and competency. That becomes, of course, even more relevant if you are dealing maybe with a European parent and somebody from a non-European or what we call a non- western background maybe.

About the mediator

Sabine Walsh Profile Pic

Sabine became a full time mediator having left legal practice in 2009. She has a broad ranging private practice. She is Programme Director and Lecturer on the Postgraduate Certificate in Mediation and Conflict Resolution at St. Angela’s College, Sligo (NUIG), and also provides mediation training for other agencies, including the Law Society. She is a certified international family mediator, a trained Professional Practice Consultant and hold... View Mediator