The European Parliament has recently held a debate on European Commission proposals to change EU laws on resolving international divorce disputes.
Improvements to EU laws on conflict resolution are thought to be necessary because of increasing rates of international divorces and cross-border child abductions within the EU.
The Commission estimates that there are 16 million international families in the EU and that there are around 140,000 international divorces in the EU every year. In addition, there are around 1,800 parental child abductions within the EU each year.
MEPS have acknowledged the quality of the proposals put forward by the Commission, but have also called for a strengthening of the rights of children throughout the dispute resolution procedure.
According to the MEPS, this would notably mean ensuring that the child has the right to express an opinion, which would be obtained through a clear procedure, without exerting pressure on the child and by a specially trained expert interviewer.
MEPS have also proposed that if a child is abducted to another EU country by one of their parents, the matter must be dealt with by practising and experienced family judges, to ensure the best interests of the child are prioritised.
“The child is the weakest link in disputes between parents and therefore needs all the protection we can give,” explained Parliament’s draftsman Tadeusz Zwiefka (EPP, PL). “Notably, the hearing of the child is a key issue which merits detailed provisions.”
MEPs also want to improve information-sharing and cooperation between the member states’ judicial authorities.
Parliament’s opinion was adopted by 562 to 16 with 43 abstentions. The opinion will now be passed on to the Council, which is responsible for ultimately taking a decision.
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