Linking law and social work

International social work poses major legal and socio-pedagogical challenges for the professionals involved and often causes great uncertainty. Our policy work covers this area of advocacy in the fields of family conflict, child protection, cross-border placement, migration, adoption and surrogacy - always from the perspective of children and their rights.

This section is a knowledge database – a possibility to get a first impression and to download in-depth material. It will not answer every question. Contact us at any time with your specific case.

National law ends at the national border. A court decision made in one country does not automatically continue to apply if the parties involved move to another country. If several countries are involved, it can also happen that different court decisions are issued that apply simultaneously and may even contradict each other. 

Seamless protection across borders

In order to avoid this, to achieve legal certainty and to provide protection that is as seamless as possible, there are international agreements that regulate which court has jurisdiction and how foreign decisions can be recognised and enforced. All these modern agreements in international family law are linked to the habitual residence of the child rather than the citizenship of the parties involved. Decisions should be made where the children live, are integrated, go to school and kindergarten - and then be recognised in all other member states.

A global network

The International Social Service and ISD, as the German member, have been continually working on the drafting and further development of such agreements and on publicising them among child and youth welfare as well as legal professionals for 100 years. We present some of them, their regulatory content and practical significance on this page. In addition to the original text, you will also find relevant publications, statements and commentaries. 

In addition to knowledge of the legal framework, cases involving foreign countries also require special social work skills and knowledge of foreign child and youth welfare systems. Refering a case abroad is more than just a linguistic translation. It requires intercultural competence and knowledge of the structures and possibilities in the other system. This is another reason why ISS is constantly working on the further development of its international network in more than 120 countries around the world, and on a common transnational understanding of social work.

Advocacy Papers and links

ISS Advocacy and position statements

ISS members are currently working on advocacy position statements on the following themes as key issues handled by the network:

ISS Advocacy [external link]

Factsheets from our british member CFAB

These resources are intended to assist anyone working with children in an international context, including social workers, lawyers or policy makers:

CFAB Factsheets [external link]