True Story

A true story of modern Greek reality

Alexander is the father of two young children. His ex-wife and mother of his children is Greek. The children were born in Sweden where they lived as a family at the time. The couple decided to divorce by consensus and the divorce was granted in Sweden, where the institution of joint and indivisible parental custody applies even after a divorce, which they successfully practiced for two consecutive years. In Sweden, the institution of alternating residence and equal time of children in two homes, mom’s and dad’s, also applies, with a weekly rotation in each home, maintaining the child’s permanent residence at the same municipality where the family used to live before the divorce; which also happened in the case of Alexander. That is, the parents, even after a divorce, are legally presumed to continue co-deciding on all issues relating to the upbringing of their children, such as health, education, place of residence. The well-being of children growing up in this context as well as their emotional balance, are at very high levels.

By mutual agreement, the ex-spouses and their children went back to Greece. The mother, knowing that in Greece the custody of the children is traditionally awarded solely to one of the two parents, and more usually the mother, made a fresh application to the Greek courts. After the involvement of the Greek Justice, the joint physical custody (shared parenting) arrangement was overturned, and custody was awarded solely to the mother of the children, who now makes all the decisions that concern the daily life of the children. In this way, the father no longer has any say in the upbringing, education and health of his children. In addition, the children’s contact with their father became problematic due to the institutional framework and the said decision of the Greek judge. It has become impossible for the father to access information about his children’s daily lives. He ignores information about his children regarding health, education, behavior, sociability, reactions, school, etc. He is often forced to ask for a prosecutor’s order, in order to be informed about his children’s health issues! The parents now live in different cities, and while the father has explored the possibilities of moving to the city where his children live, the Greek courts will not give him a substantial role in their upbringing, nor more time with them.

The above story is an example of how the same parents with the same children in different institutional frameworks of two equal Member States of the European Union, that in many other areas have a common path, are treated differently with an impact on the upbringing of children. It is characteristic that the Greek court received an extremely fair arrangement of joint physical custody (shared parenting), which essentially benefited the children with the presence of both parents in their daily life and upbringing, turning it into an unjust one that maintains the dispute between the parents. Therefore, the parents’ origin or local culture, are arguments that need to be redefined. Clearly there is no supremacy of the Swedes over the Greeks or other peoples, such an assumption would constitute biosocial racism. We are all socially equal and biologically the same. The framework of rules (Laws) is what defines human behaviors and shapes the culture of each people.

Within Europe we share common roots and institutions in almost everything – except the joint custody of minor children-. What constitutes superiority in Swedish family law, as in most other countries, is the harmonization with human rights, the recommendations of the European resolutions (2079/2015), the legal equality of parents, and the State’s follow up on scientific findings of chronic studies with their additional application through the legislative framework, with complete clarity and with the sole aim to benefit the child and its psycho-emotional needs. The purpose of society is to evolve for the better. So why shouldn’t Greece do the same? A country that produced and spread culture? What is the reason for the obsession and attachment to a model that has failed miserably for decades to the detriment of children and which no longer corresponds to social reality? Why are two Greek parents able to successfully implement shared parenting in another country and not in Greece? What has changed besides their geographical location? What is it that puts children at risk of psycho-emotional problems in Greece and not elsewhere?

“Active Dads, for the Rights of the Child”

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