Children were at the forefront of MEPs concerns on January 18 when the European Parliament adopted proposals to change European Union laws on resolving international divorce disputes.

While acknowledging the quality of the Commission’s proposals to improve the regulation in place, MEPs proposed strengthening the rights of children throughout the dispute resolution procedure between the divorcing couple.

According to a European Parliament press release, 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.

If a child is abducted to another EU country by one of their parents, MEPs propose that the matter must be dealt with by practising and experienced family judges, to ensure the best interests of the child are prioritised.

Opening the debate on the topic on January 17, Parliament’s draftsman Tadeusz Zwiefka (EPP, PL) dedicated his intervention to stressing the importance of the child dimension.

“The child is the weakest link in disputes between parents and therefore needs all the protection we can give,” he said. “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 be handed to the Council, which will take a decision.