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Belgium

Country information

Belgium

1. International Family Mediation

Family mediation, in Belgium, is legally recognised, commonly implemented and encouraged by the State. The Judicial Code regulates the organisation of courts and tribunals, competencies and procedure. Within the Judicial Code, there is an amendment which provides for the existence of mediation as a strategy for conflict resolution. The Federal Commission of Mediation (website is in French and Flemish) provides the List of mediators, where you can find a mediator speaking your language.

There is no structure specialised on international family mediation in Belgium, but the Network of Cross-border Family Mediators has created a global database which identifies expert family mediators who specialise in cross-border family conflict.

1) Belgium is a Party to the 1980 Hague Convention.

The 1980 Hague Convention: a multilateral treaty which provides procedural guidelines on the return of children and their protection in cases of international parental child abduction.

Contact the Central Authority established in Belgium  for cases of child abduction (operational languages: French, Dutch, English and Bulgarian).

2) Belgium is a Party to the 1996 Hague Convention.

The 1996 Hague Convention: a multilateral treaty which determines jurisdiction, applicable law, co-operation in respect of parental responsibility and access rights, as well as civil and public measures for the protection or care of children. 

Contact the Central Authority established in Belgium for cases of dispute concerning cross-border parental responsibilities and rights of contact with children (operational languages: French, Dutch, English and Bulgarian).

3) Belgium is a Party to the Brussels IIA Regulation.

Brussels IIA: a legal instrument of the European Union to help resolve family disputes involving more than one country, over divorce, all parental responsibilities and, in particular, the custody of children. Brussels IIA is a regulation applicable to all European Union Member states (except Denmark). The regulation prevails over the 1996 Hague Convention in cases where the child’s habitual residence is within a European Union Member state (except Denmark). Please be aware that if a decision on access and/or custody rights is taken by a court from the European Union, the regulation foresees that a State Party to the 1996 Hague Convention must recognise the court decision.

Contact the Central Authority established in Belgium designated under the 1996 Hague Convention for cases of dispute concerning cross-border parental responsibilities and rights of contact with children (operational languages: French, Dutch, English and Bulgarian).

You can determine whether countries relevant to your case are Parties, or not, to the 1980 Hague Convention on International Child Abduction, the 1996 Hague Convention on Child Protection and/or Brussels IIA (except Denmark) in order to locate the appropriate central authority. As for the 1980 Hague Convention, you can check whether the Convention is in force between two specific States in the Spreadsheet showing acceptances of accessions to the Child Abduction Convention.

The Brussels Social Action Service (SASB), the Belgian branch of International Social Service, helps those who, due to migration or other social problems, meet personal or family problems requiring a coordinated response between Belgium and one or more other countries (website is in French, but languages of communication: English, Dutch and French). SASB acts as an intermediary between Belgian authorities, Belgian social services and their foreign counterparts through the network of ISS. It also restores family contact.

4. Child Welfare Services

The European Network of Ombudspersons for Children (ENOC) is a non-profit association of independent children’s rights institutions (click on Belgium in the list of country-members).

In cases where a child is missing, abducted and/or sexually exploited please contact Child Focus: the Foundation for missing and sexually exploited children (website is in French or Dutch). This Foundation also deals with prevention of child abduction and a safe and responsible use of the Internet by children.

SOS Children's Villages in Belgium provides quick and adequate support to prevent the situation from getting worse when families go through difficult situations. House Simba in Liedekerke offers fostering and guidance to families who cannot temporarily ensure the safety of their children so that these families can be reunited as soon as possible (website is in French and Dutch).

The website of “Missing Children Europe” provides helpful information and a List of organisations around Europe working in the realm of child disappearances.

The Psycho-medical social centres (CPMS) are available to students and their parents, upon entry into primary education to the end of secondary education (website is in French). The PMS Centre is composed of psychologists, social workers, doctors and nurses who work in teams. This is a free public service. To find the PMS Centre in your region or your commune, please contact the directory of psycho-medico-social centres.

The Youth Law Services (SDJ) are social services which ensure social and legal assistance and, on request, support the young in family conflicts and placement of (website is in French). Contact SDJ in your city here.

5. Support to Bi-national Couples, Cross-cultural and Migrant Families

The Immigration Office can give information concerning the integration of migrants or immigrants. Please contact the Office by phone (in English) or email (in French and Dutch only) here.

Caritas International in Belgium helps victims of war, natural disasters, migration and poverty and gives support to migrants by offering individualised answer to their migration journey. Contact Caritas International in Belgium here if you have questions (e.g. about family reunification, voluntary return, etc.) or need help (e.g. material, paperwork, finding a place to stay, etc.).

The International Service of Research, Education and Social Action (Siréas) provides legal aid service specialised in migrant law. They find solutions to issues of residence, political asylum, family reunification, civil status, etc. This work is done in close collaboration with the Brussels Social Action Service (SASB) and the Association for the Rights of Foreigners (ADDE).

The Association for the Rights of Foreigners (ADDE) is a research centre based in Brussels that studies issues related to migration and cultural diversity and promotes the rights of foreigners. Please contact ADDE here if you need legal service (website is in French).

Foyer is a non-profit organisation situated in Molenbeek, which focuses on the integration of people of immigrant background. Foyer has activities related to intercultural mediation and prevention in health care and contributes to the protection of the rights of individuals, refugees, undocumented persons.

Some of the hyperlinks you will find in the texts of this section lead you to websites available only in the native language of the country chosen. Copy the URL-address and paste it in Google Translate, choose your language and click on “translate” to find the whole website available.