Cell to resolve child custody dispute in NRI marital discord

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New Delhi : In order to protect the interests of a child whose parents living abroad have separated, the government on Wednesday directed the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) to form a "Mediation Cell".

According to the Women and Child Development Ministry (WCD), the cell has been constituted to resolve the cases of children who were taken away by one of the spouses without the permission of the other due to marital discord or domestic violence from overseas country to India or the vice-versa and prepare parental plan taking into account the best interest of the child.

"Any parent can approach the Integrated Nodal Agency (INA) set up to resolve the NRI marriages issues, with the details of the case and a representation could also be made by the child or a custodian of the child," it said in a statement.

As per the Ministry, the INA will refer the matter to the NCPCR which will undertake mediation so that all aspects of the case could be tabled from both the sides.

The Mediation Cell will also develop a parental plan and submit its report to the INA and based on it or further inputs from the applicants or from the Home Ministry or Foreign Ministry, it will pass a speaking order in the matter.

The WCD Ministry further said that the proceedings of the INA will have no interference of court proceedings which may have been initiated by either of the parents in any jurisdiction.

"The purpose of this procedure is primarily to bring all the facts of the case, including the legal proceedings that may have been initiated either by the parties, make an overall assessment of the situation and suggest a parental plan in the best interests of the child," Union WCD Minister Maneka Gandhi said.

Gandhi further added that the issue of signing the Hague Convention is still open and a decision on it will be taken in due course.

"Till then, the mediation process as notified by the WCD Ministry should take care of most of the representations received by the Ministry. The speaking order of the INA will be extremely useful for both the parents to get the legal cases resolved or closed," she added.

The Hague Convention is a multi-national treaty that seeks to protect children wrongfully removed by one of the parent from the custody of the other parent.