Divorce: the child's protection above all
In Valais, a pilot project is trying to tackle the disastrous consequences that can result from a dialogue breakdown between parents who are in the process of separation.
A stormy divorce, a family torn apart, a child caught in a crossfire: separations represent a crucial stage in a minor's development, and an emotional overload or a lack of consideration from the parents can quickly lead to tragedy.
In Switzerland, nearly one out of two married couples ends up divorced, and these situations always difficult to live provide a fertile ground for runaways and parental abductions. Emotional relationships deteriorate, contact can be broken, sometimes pushing the child or the parent to make a terrible decision.
Since January 2020, the canton of Valais has decided to implement a model that is unprecedented in Switzerland to further protect the child when his parents separate.
Based on the so-called "Cochem model", named after the German city where the method was born, this pilot project aims to bring the different parties of a separation towards "parental consensus", in order to settle dissensions as soon as possible.
The method, which has already proven itself in Belgium and Germany, is currently being tested in the district of Monthey. It places the well-being of the child as the ultimate priority during a separation. In this project, parents are required to attend a mandatory information session where they are made aware of the pitfalls to avoid and encouraged to find amicable solutions.
Everything is done to ensure that the child does not find himself at the heart of the conflict and is affected as little as possible. The different actors involved, from lawyers to judicial authorities or mediators, are trained and work together towards the same goal: the rapid easing of tensions and the building of co-parenthood.
Missing Children Switzerland is very pleased with the implementation of this pilot project. It represents an excellent alternative to the current punitive method of divorce. The Foundation deplores the fact that separations too often result in an aggrieved parent, with dramatic consequences for the children concerned.
A system based on listening and mediation with the objective of reaching a peaceful solution is indeed largely beneficial for all parties. Missing Children Switzerland therefore welcomes the Valais initiative and is delighted that this method could one day be adopted throughout Switzerland.
We finally talk about it!
If the words "prevention" and "children's protection" are at the heart of actions to help minors in vulnerable situations, our observation is that parents are often faced with an implacable judgment instead of a real support in the separation process.
The intrusion of curatorship for children within families causes a real fragmentation within families in the absence of real dialogue between them and social actors.
After reading reports on parents and children in difficulty, we are convinced that this system does not work and that a new strategy is needed to support minors.
Unhappiness, runaways, endangerment, parental abductions are all consequences of a child welfare system that treats the subject of minors protection with a fire extinguisher in hand.