On 6 March 2018, the HKFLA invited Ms. Iris Liu, Director of the Programme Cross-boundary and Inter-country Social Service, to talk about Cross-Border Child Custody Evaluation and Family Mediation.
Ms. Liu provided information on the International Social Service Hong Kong (“ISS-HK”) including its history and structure, and its services such as International Social Investigation Reports, international family mediation, child placement services, and tracing services.
ISS-HK was first established in Hong Kong in 1958 and is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. Its primary focus and concern of ISS-HK is the welfare of children. Where children matters such as custody and access, removal, guardianship for mentally incapacitated persons or suspected child abuse are involved in Hong Kong, the Mainland or Macau SAR, a case may be referred to the ISS-HK for involvement.
Cases may be referred to ISS-HK by the Hong Kong Courts, law firms or other NGO. If required, the ISS-HK can also refer cases to other branches of ISS, or affiliated Bureaus and Correspondents covering 120 countries around the world in order to make the most suitable assessments, evaluations, or arrangements for a case.
Through sample cases shared by Ms. Liu, the audience gained understanding of the services and benefits of ISS-HK, the challenges faced, and the assessments and reports conducted and prepared. In preparation of the report, a variety of activities will be conducted such as home and school visits, document checking, interviews, observations and communication, photo taking and checking facilities and environment. Understanding the services of ISS-HK is helpful for the Hong Kong matrimonial practice, where welfare of children is the paramount concern and we often turn to social investigation reports for an initial understanding of a child’s situation.