Letter From the Greek Ombudsman to the Minister of Justice

Letter From the Greek Ombudsman to the Minister of Justice on Equal Shared Parenting and Family Law Reform

The new models of family life must be taken into account and the rights of the child, which are now guaranteed by overriding legislative power, must be at the heart of any reform initiative that concerns the child.

The Ombudsman has found that in our country the implementation of the rights of the child, as they are enshrined in the International UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC, 1989), falls short of the standards set by the Convention, due to existing provisions of Family Law and / or their interpretation and application by case law in the individual areas analyzed in the Ombudsman’s letter.

On this basis, the Ombudsman advocates a courageous, radical revision of Family Law that will be a real and substantial paradigm shift based on the following principles and rules:

– The distinction between the regulation of relations between parents (whatever formal / legal form / expression they have, or even without standardization, informally, as free cohabitation), and between parents on the one hand and their child / children on the other. The relations between parents can change over time and in response to changes in life circumstances, with a corresponding adjustment of their legal form or the rupture of any bond, legal and physical. The relationship between parents and their child / children, as of a different nature, should remain unaffected by the changes in the relationship between parents. This principle is summed up in the phrase ‘marriage or cohabitation can be dissolved, but the parental role exists for a lifetime’.

– The recognition and effective protection of the child’s right to shared care and parenting by its parents. Irrespective of the break-up of the legal (where applicable) and / or physical link between parents, the exercise of parental responsibility as a whole, including custody, by both parents and the assurance of a balanced, equitable, of equal time and equivalent (right, but above all) duty of parenting by those who constitute the inviolable core of the child’s right.

– The consolidation of the equal role of the parents towards their child/ children, since birth. A role that highlights rights and obligations, not towards the other parent, but towards the child/children, as a parent’s duty to parental responsibility in its entirety, and in all its expressions and manifestations.

 – The regulation of the individual aspects of the exercise of shared parental responsibility in its entirety by agreement of the parents, and preferably at a time that is in line with the life of the child and not with the life of the parents, based on the principle, that the disruption of the relationship between parents should not affect their relationship with their child / children and the rule of shared parental responsibility as a whole.

– Recourse to justice by invoking an important reason, based either on the law or on the agreement between the parents.

The legislation must convey a strong message to parents, first and foremost, and law enforcers, that parental responsibility is a duty of parents towards their children, the fulfillment of which cannot depend on the agreement of each party and responsibility, from which they cannot be relieved by invoking the abnormal development of their cohabitation.

For this reason, it is imperative to introduce the rule of shared exercise of parental responsibility, in its entirety, even after separation/ divorce/ annulment of marriage/ termination of civil partnership.

Read full text here: Greek Ombudsman on equal shared parenting