December 2023 – Family Law Dispute: Joint Custody – Children to reside with the father.

December 2023 – Family Law Dispute: Joint Custody – Children to reside with the father.

By decision number 12073/2023 of the Single-Member Court of First Instance of Athens (Special Procedure for Family Disputes), the lawsuit of our client – the father of two daughters aged 13 and 11 – was accepted, and the custody of the children, regarding their health and education, was assigned to both parents. However, for all other aspects, custody was determined to be exercised solely by the father, and the place of residence of the children was specified as their father’s residence.

The mother had filed a counterclaim with a main request for exclusive custody, alternatively joint custody with alternating residence, and, furthermore, an extended right of communication. The Court essentially rejected the first two requests of the counterparty, regulating the personal communication right of the mother according to the proposed communication program by our side, which was deemed to be in the best interest of the children. The Court partially accepted her claim regarding the communication arrangement.

Regarding the procedural details of the case, it should be noted that a judgment of the Court of Insurance Measures had preceded this matter, issued upon request from our part, a year ago. Through this judgment, temporary custody of the children had been entrusted to both parents, and their father’s residence was designated as their place of residence. Subsequently, the counterparty had filed an application for the revocation/modification of the above decision, primarily requesting the assignment of exclusive custody to herself, alternatively joint custody with alternating residence, and, even more alternatively, the granting of an extended right of communication. A decision was issued rejecting her requests for revocation and modification of the above decision, regulating her communication right with the proposed method by the father, partially accepting our presented allegations.

In this case, the Court, taking into account the evidence we provided and the personal communication the Judge had with the two girls, after accepting our relevant request, judged that ” […] with the children staying at their father’s home, a bond of stability and trust has developed, essential elements for the smooth development of children at their age […].” Through the personal communication the Court had with the children, it was established that both desire to reside in their father’s home. Additionally, it was proven that the father assists them in their daily needs and studies and that they have developed very good relationships with his new family, namely his wife and her daughter. Moreover, the presented evidence showed that the relationship of the children with their mother is not always characterized by calmness, as they experience tensions from their mother’s side, which influences the children. The Court also took into account our representative’s ability to assist the children daily with their needs, as he finishes work early in the afternoon and can dedicate all his free time to the children, unlike the counterparty.

Furthermore, the Court rejected as unsubstantiated all the counterparty’s claims, namely that allegedly, since moving to their father’s home, the children became tired due to the commuting to their activities and showed a refusal to participate, as well as the alleged lack of effective control by the father over their daily lives. Finally, claims of the mother regarding the influence of the father on the children and the parental alienation were dismissed as unfounded. The testimonies of the counterparty’s witnesses were also deemed unconvincing, as they contradicted the presented evidence.

Thus, the Court ruled that, considering the already established situation, the adaptation of the children to the environment they live in with their father, the importance of not disrupting their smooth lifestyle, and their sensitive age, and having proven that their father is capable of offering them a calm and stable environment, taking into account the express desire of the minors to continue residing with him, their true interest dictates that they remain close to their father. Regarding the exercise of their custody, the Court judged that the real interest of the minors, given the suitability and willingness of the parties to be substantially involved in their children’s lives, without ignoring the irregularities in their personal relationship, necessitates the joint exercise of their care. According to the Court’s reasoning, “[…] the disagreements between the parties are not considered substantial and insurmountable and can be overcome with basic communication, as they should act for the good of their children. […]”. Regarding the counterparty’s request for alternating residence of the children in the homes of the parents on a weekly basis, it was dismissed as unsubstantiated, considering the interest of the children, the already established situation, the opinion of the children, the professions of the parties, and the time each has to devote to their children. Thus, the Court partially accepted only the counterparty’s auxiliary request for the regulation of her communication right with the children, according to the proposed communication program by our representative, which was deemed to be in their best interest, for the purpose of progressively strengthening their psychological and emotional bond, which undoubtedly was shaken by the breakdown of their parents’ marital cohabitation.