Thursday, 17 April 2014

NGO: Czech divorce disputes over children more frequent

4 October 2013

Prague, Oct 3 (CTK) - The Our Child Foundation, a Czech nongovernmental organisation offering help to children at risk, has been increasingly dealing with cases of children whose parents fail to agree on care for their children after divorce, the foundation's deputy head Marketa Sodomkova said Thursday.

"The disputes over children become more frequent - not only in the Czech Republic but also international disputes. Breakups, divorces and protracted disputes definitely are psychological abuse of children," the foundation's head Zuzana Baudysova said.

"The children feel insecurity, not knowing what will come. They start being afraid, waking up at night, having nightmares, wetting their pants," she added.

As more Czechs marry a foreigner, there are more breakups and "kidnapping" cases when the foreign parent moves abroad with the child against the will of his or her former partner, Baudysova said.

She recommended that people be cautious before planning to have family with a person from another country and culture.

She said people should first of all check whether the given country has signed an agreement on the return of children in case of a parental child abduction with the Czech Republic.

Divorces, obstructions to parent-child contact and not paying maintenance represent nearly two thirds of cases that the foundation's hotline deals with.

In 2012 the NGO dealt with 113 divorce cases.

Baudysova said parents who are unable to reach agreement after divorce should seek mediation, which may help unblock the frozen communication and find a solution that is good not only for them but also for their offspring.

The Our Child legal assistance line has been functioning since 2005. Its lawyers dealt with 181 cases in 2012, 138 of them concerning family law.

In 2011, about one hundred cases concerned family affairs.

According to the Czech Statistical Office, 26,402 marriages were divorced in the 10.5-million country last year, 58 percent of them concerning underage children. The divorces affected approximately 23,000 children.

Czech Mediators' Association head Elena Meskova said most mediation proceedings concern family affairs, mostly disputes over a child.

Meskova said more than four out of five cases result in a successful agreement.

She said courts respected this agreement and they may even order mediation to the disputing parties.

Meskova said court proceedings often lasted far longer, were much more expensive and were stressful for children.

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