by Kostas Tsiaras, Minister of Justice

In tune with the tried and tested model of joint parental care after divorce in most European countries, the law by the Hellenic Ministry of Justice on parent-child relations creates a realistic basis for arrangements between parents for the care and welfare of their children after the dissolution of their married life, except in cases of domestic violence.

Law 4800/2021, which modifies the framework governing parent-child relations, is the result of extensive consultations with stakeholders and is specifically centred on the welfare of children. At the heart of the new provisions was the real and genuine interest of the child as the fundamental criterion for regulating parent-child relationship after divorce.

The new regulations, to be fully implemented next September, introduce important innovations based on respect for each parent as having an equal role in the stable psychological and intellectual development of the child.

At the same time, the introduction of innovative modifications facilitates this framework of communication. They include the introduction of alternative methods for resolving family disputes, such as mediation, so as to avoid long and arduous legal disputes that would be detrimental to the parties involved but especially to children. The rebuttable presumption of 1/3 is established regarding communication between the child and the non-custodian parent, while the introduction of objective criteria for inadequate or harmful exercise of parental care will be taken into consideration in court rulings on parental care and custody. These include failure to pay alimony, non-compliance with court decisions and/or agreements between divorced parents, and severance of a child’s relationship with the other parent.

The legislation also provides for legal guarantees to protect women and children from abusive behavior, in accordance with international conventions and in particular the Istanbul Convention.

Special seminars at the National School of the Judiciary have been scheduled for judicial officers by specialized psychologists, sociologists, social workers, university professors and judicial officers to ensure that the new framework will be fully effective in the resolution of family disputes.

This creates a modern and coherent framework of regulations allowing national law to converge with international standards. More importantly, these modifications are specifically geared towards meeting a genuine social need to redefine family relations after a separation, which have changed profoundly since the last family law reform 40 years ago. They are modifications that respond to the needs of a society that continues to change.

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The article by Kostas Tsiaras is part of the special feature on the recent law 4800/2021 “Reforms regarding parent-child relations and other family law issues” by the ministry of Justice. The law goes into force in September, 2021.

Supporters say it gives fathers the rights they deserve. Opponents say it puts children’s interests at stake, risking their welfare. Greek Business File presents the two sides of the debate in its July/ August 2021 issue, available here.