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Conversations between children and judges in child abduction cases in Belgium and the Netherlands

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Abstract
This article examines the hearing of children in Belgian and Dutch courts in return proceedings following an international child abduction. The analysis is based on the experience, insights and needs of both children who have experienced an abduction by one of their parents, and family judges. In this sensitive and often highly conflicted family context, hearing children in court is not self-evident. Challenges of both a judicial-institutional and communicative-relational nature can hinder the effective implementation of children’s right to be heard. This contribution seeks to answer the question of how to better support judges and children in addressing these challenges, with the aim of enabling children to fully and effectively participate in return procedures. Building on the interviews with children and judges, supplemented with findings from Belgian and Dutch case law and international literature, three key recommendations are formulated: 1) explore and evaluate opportunities for judges and children to experience support during the return procedure, for example via the figure of the guardian ad litem; 2) invest in training and opportunities for specialisation of judges with a view to strengthen their expertise in taking the best interests of the child into account; and 3) systematically pay attention to feedback to the children involved on how the final decision about their return is made – and this before, during and after the procedure.
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HRC

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MLA
Lembrechts, Sara, et al. “Conversations between Children and Judges in Child Abduction Cases in Belgium and the Netherlands.” FAMILY & LAW, 2019, doi:10.5553/fenr/.000039.
APA
Lembrechts, S., Putters, M., Van Hoorde, K., Kruger, T., Ponnet, K., & Vandenhole, W. (2019). Conversations between children and judges in child abduction cases in Belgium and the Netherlands. FAMILY & LAW. https://doi.org/10.5553/fenr/.000039
Chicago author-date
Lembrechts, Sara, Marieke Putters, Kim Van Hoorde, Thalia Kruger, Koen Ponnet, and Wouter Vandenhole. 2019. “Conversations between Children and Judges in Child Abduction Cases in Belgium and the Netherlands.” FAMILY & LAW. https://doi.org/10.5553/fenr/.000039.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Lembrechts, Sara, Marieke Putters, Kim Van Hoorde, Thalia Kruger, Koen Ponnet, and Wouter Vandenhole. 2019. “Conversations between Children and Judges in Child Abduction Cases in Belgium and the Netherlands.” FAMILY & LAW. doi:10.5553/fenr/.000039.
Vancouver
1.
Lembrechts S, Putters M, Van Hoorde K, Kruger T, Ponnet K, Vandenhole W. Conversations between children and judges in child abduction cases in Belgium and the Netherlands. FAMILY & LAW. 2019;
IEEE
[1]
S. Lembrechts, M. Putters, K. Van Hoorde, T. Kruger, K. Ponnet, and W. Vandenhole, “Conversations between children and judges in child abduction cases in Belgium and the Netherlands,” FAMILY & LAW, 2019.
@article{8612075,
  abstract     = {This article examines the hearing of children in Belgian and Dutch courts in return proceedings following an international child abduction. The analysis is based on the experience, insights and needs of both children who have experienced an abduction by one of their parents, and family judges. In this sensitive and often highly conflicted family context, hearing children in court is not self-evident. Challenges of both a judicial-institutional and communicative-relational nature can hinder the effective implementation of children’s right to be heard. This contribution seeks to answer the question of how to better support judges and children in addressing these challenges, with the aim of enabling children to fully and effectively participate in return procedures. Building on the interviews with children and judges, supplemented with findings from Belgian and Dutch case law and international literature, three key recommendations are formulated: 1) explore and evaluate opportunities for judges and children to experience support during the return procedure, for example via the figure of the guardian ad litem; 2) invest in training and opportunities for specialisation of judges with a view to strengthen their expertise in taking the best interests of the child into account; and 3) systematically pay attention to feedback to the children involved on how the final decision about their return is made – and this before, during and after the procedure.},
  articleno    = {7},
  author       = {Lembrechts, Sara and Putters, Marieke and Van Hoorde, Kim and Kruger, Thalia and Ponnet, Koen and Vandenhole, Wouter},
  issn         = {2542-5242},
  journal      = {FAMILY & LAW},
  keywords     = {HRC},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {22},
  title        = {Conversations between children and judges in child abduction cases in Belgium and the Netherlands},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.5553/fenr/.000039},
  year         = {2019},
}

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