On 31.7.2020, the article 1519 was added to the Greek Civil Code, according to which “Change of the residence place of the child, which substantially affects the contact right of the parent with whom the child does not reside, requires prior parental agreement or prior final court decision at the request of either parent”. The reason for this regulation is to stop the relocation of sole custodial parents, with their children, to other cities or countries. This event, which was common under the sole custody regime, violently interrupted the communication of children with one of their parents. This regulation, in principle, is a step towards recognizing and protecting the right of children to be raised by (and, therefore, to communicate with) both parents.
Despite the fact that the provision of the law is clear, it does not contain ambiguities and its grammatical wording should leave absolutely no room for misinterpretation, despite the publication of this amendment in the Official Gazette on 31.7.2020, nevertheless, the phenomenon of its non-application, in everyday court practice, is now repeated in alarming extents. Every day, we receive court rulings that run counter to the letter and spirit of the law. These orders of the court, hearing the application for interim measures, which run counter to the basic principle of law enforcing the non-satisfaction of the right through exceptional judicial protection and under the guise of the unjustified nature of interim injunctions, continue to perpetuate the pathogenesis of non-protection of children’s rights.
Indicatively, on 25.9.2020, in a Court of First Instance of a Greek big city, a request for a temporary order was accepted that allowed the change of a mother’s residence place with the two minor children in a city of another prefecture located 300 kilometers away! The temporarily ordered communication program of these preschool children with their father concerns 6 days every month, for only 3 hours each, without an overnight stay, and despite the fact that he will have to travel to another city! The same court rejected the father’s request of temporary order, requesting the prohibition of any movement of his children, until the issuance of a final decision! The mother with the 2 children, against the a. 1519 AK (Greek Civil Code), has already moved to the other city!
The Court of First Instance of a large Greek island city, on 21.9.2020, upheld with its decision the illegal relocation of a mother, together with her two minor children in custody, in another country, despite the fact that this change of residence took place after 31.7.2020. Today the mother and the 2 minor children are in another country, whose language they do not speak, with the tolerance of the Greek courts.
In the light of these facts, it becomes clear that the introduction of Shared Custody, according to European directives*, is deemed necessary more than ever. Thus, the “customary law” of sole custody, a certain legal practice that is imposed in Greece for several decades, will disappear, as well as the unnecessary separation of the concepts “parental responsibility” and “parental custody” from the Greek courts. This practice leads legally to child-parent estrangement and often to parental alienation with all that this entails for their psycho-emotional health, for the rest of their lives. Parents should have equal duties, responsibilities and rights towards their children.
In view of the present reform of the Family Law provisions, but also of the fight for the obvious that we do, for the protection of children’s rights, we have the obligation, as a body, to draw attention to the State, that the legal order is not promoted if the laws are not applied.
*Original document: http://assembly.coe.int/nw/xml/XRef/Xref-XML2HTML-EN.asp?fileid=22220&lang=en
“Active Dads for the Rights of the Child AMKE”