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Courts ‘favour women’ over children’s custody PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Claudia Calleja   

A father of two small children feels he should have more access to his children after separation proceedings.

The father of two small children, who is undergoing separation proceedings, feels that the court system unfairly favours women when allocating custody access.

“All I want is to spend more time with my children. But the system does not seem to assume that the mother and the father are equal when it comes to this. What are the rights of the father?” he questioned.

The man, who preferred not be named to protect his identity and that of his family, is even more frustrated at the fact that it was his wife who left him and broke up the family.

She left the matrimonial home, taking the children with her. As the couple failed to reach an agreement on access to the children during mediation, the father filed an application and the court ruled he could see the children a few hours a week.

He can now see his children for about seven hours a week but hopes that when the judge reaches his final decision the parents will be allocated joint custody and he will have more time with them.

While he understands that the children need a base they can call a home, he feels disappointed at the fact that the court automatically decided that the base would be with the mother.

He believes his estranged wife was taking advantage of the temporary access ruling and, at times, she stopped him from seeing the children by not sending them to him during his access hours. He claimed she also stopped him from seeing the children during the Christmas holidays.

In an attempt to try and find an amicable situation, his lawyer wrote to his wife’s lawyer suggesting longer hours. The wife’s lawyer replied by saying he should also be suggesting the payment of more maintenance. The correspondence was seen by The Times.

Human rights lawyer Therese Comodini Cachia pointed out that the priority of the Family Court was the child’s best interest. Even though the mother might have broken down the family, blame did not factor into the equation when it came to custody.

Because of the way Maltese society was structured it was more likely that the mother would be granted custody since it was usually the father who kept on working when children were born and, therefore, had less time to spend with the children, she said.

However, this was not a hard and fast rule as there were cases when custody was granted to the father.

It was very rare that children spent half the week at one parent and the other half with the other as this meant they did not have a base to call home. Usually custody was granted to one parent with the other having access rights.

“One has to keep in mind that parents do not have a right to access but it is the right of the child to have a relationship with both parents,” she said.

 



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