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Politics

Two New Democracy Lawmakers Won’t Back Child Custody Bill

ATHENS – A family law reform bill that had already been amended after fierce criticism was rejected by two lawmakers from the ruling New Democracy in a rare break with party discipline that often sees rebels being booted.

Under fire from Amnesty International which said t he measure would let violent offenders have the right to share child custody, Members of Parliament Marietta Giannakou and Olga Kefalogianni submitted joint proposals for amendments.

They argued that it is not realistic for daily child care to be exercised equally by both parents after the divorce and that the legislation favors parents rights over those of the children, reported Kathimerini.

“I cannot vote for the bill unless the word ‘equally’ is deleted from the provision stipulating that parental responsibility is exercised ‘jointly and equally,’” said Kefalogianni during a debate, addressing Justice Minister Kostas Tsiaras.

“It is good to ask the scientific community and use common sense. Children need both parents, but there must be no horizontal and rigid solutions. Everyday life must be managed by whoever has custody,” she also added.

As did Amnesty, they said they were worried about a provision that would allow perpetrators of domestic violence or sexual offenses retain access or child custody until convicted by a First Instance Court, putting children at risk.

Kefalogianni said children could be under the care at times of an abusive parent and she and Giannakou objected to a strict allocation of time for living with the parent who does not have custody, arguing the right is already protected by law. Kefalogianni said that the bill appears to have been written with the intent of helping only non-custodian parents. “The bill divides, instead of uniting. Instead of solving problems, it creates them,” she told the House, adding that, “The responsibility lies with the Justice minister,” in an unusual slap at him.

Tsiaras earlier said that he would listen to objections. “We are a democratic party. We can talk. We can also hear a different point of view,” Tsiaras said, but said he will not make wholesale changes that he said would “deconstruct” the proposed bill. 

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