Country information


1. International Family Mediation

Family mediation, in Switzerland, is legally recognised and encouraged by the State; it is foreseen as an option in the Swiss Civil Code (which includes Domestic Family Law). On the website of the Swiss Federation of Mediation Associations (SDM-FSM) you can find a family mediator in your town; information is available in French, German and Italian.

International family mediation is encouraged by administrative and legal authorities to resolve international family conflicts. A legal framework for International Family Mediation has been set up under the Federal Act on International Child Abduction of 2007.

The Federal Office of Justice, in its function as Central Authority under the 1980 and 1996 Hague Conventions, has a list of international family mediators located in all linguistic regions. You can contact them directly by a Contact Form on their site.

In addition, International Social Service Switzerland (ISS Switzerland) provides international family mediation service. You can contact them directly through a Request of Intervention.

1) Switzerland 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 Switzerland for cases of child abduction (operational languages: English, French, German and Italian).

2) Switzerland 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 Switzerland for cases of dispute concerning cross-border parental responsibilities and rights of contact with children (operational languages: English, French, German and Italian).

In Switzerland, the protection of children falls within the jurisdiction of each Canton. You can find the relevant bodies directly through the List of cantonal central authorities or contact the Federal Central Authority established in Switzerland mentioned above (webpage is in German, French and Italian).

3) Switzerland is not 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.

You can determine whether countries relevant to your case are Parties, or not, to the 1980 Hague Convention on International Child Abduction and/or the 1996 Hague Convention on Child Protection 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.

International Social Service Switzerland (ISS Switzerland) provides legal and social support to families involved in cross-border conflicts. You can contact them directly through a Request of Intervention.

Pro Juventute is a foundation providing social and financial aid to parents for the development and education of children. The foundation offers personal counselling and emergency assistance in order to support families with children (website is in French, German and Italian). You can find regional associations specific to your area.

4. Child Welfare Services

The Authority for the Protection of the Child and the Adult (APEA) in your Canton provides assistance if a child is at risk or is involved in a contentious separation or a divorce. As a complete list of contacts does not exist, we recommend that you search for the particular APEA in your Canton.

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

Caritas Switzerland is a certified foster care organisation. On behalf of government authorities or social services, Caritas Family Placement facilitates placements of children, adolescents and young adults in difficult life situations in local host families in French-speaking Switzerland and German-speaking Switzerland.You can find a Regional Caritas Organisation in your town here.

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

The State Secretariat for Migration can provide information concerning the integration of migrants. The centres dealing with migration issues are divided by Canton.

The Association of Counselling Offices for Binational and Intercultural Couples and Families in Switzerland brings together local agencies to respond to issues and needs of binational families.

The Association Binational is a community of interests in Switzerland that represents interests of binational couples and families in front of Swiss public services and foreign embassies (website is in French and German).

The Swiss Refugee Council (SRC) is an umbrella organisation of non-governmental refugee advocacy organisations and human rights. They provide support for asylum seekers through legal counselling, country analysis, PR work/lobbying, education and awareness-raising.

Caritas Switzerland also supports asylum seekers, persons provisionally admitted and recognised refugees. It offers accommodation, courses, advice and assistance for return. You can find a Regional Caritas Organisation in your town here.

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.