Last summer, a Judge in Seville ordered a divorced couple who were unable to come to an agreement over the care of their children to share care on a 3 month turn-about, living in the same house as the children.  This is an unusual approach, but one that is interesting and food for thought.

This is the article that describes the judgement and the reasoning behind it. (apologies for my poor Spanish translation!)

The Family Court No. 7 of Seville has issued a judgment requiring a divorced couple with two minor children to take turns using your home every three months, in which the partner who occupies the family apartment will take custody of two children, while the other parent “shall have during that time, the right and duty to relate, communicate and stay with their children in the manner agreed, trying to safeguard the maintenance of a healthy and flexible link father and mother to child.

 At sentencing, the judge attributed to Francisco Serrano divorced parents joint custody of their two minor children to consider “the best model of parenting in response to concurrent family circumstances” and also all based on the valuation by the psychosocial team, who said that “both father and mother have personal resources, family and community to adequately cover the material and emotional needs of their children,” who “are linked emotionally and feel safe and secure” both with the father and the mother.

 Therefore, the judge Serrano agreed that both parents assume joint custody over their children so that each parent will have their children with them, living with them in the same household and assuming the role of guarantor of his care and attention for periods alternate three months coinciding with each phase of school evaluation, stating that the mother will remain with children until the end of this academic year, beginning to exercise the father “a guarantor of their care and attention” from the beginning of the course school in September.

 In relation to the attribution of the use and enjoyment of the family home and garage in the basement of the building, states that the form of joint custody “means that an allocation does not apply exclusively,” all, “at least until proceed with the liquidation of the conjugal partnership and sold the house or be awarded, subject to compensation, one of such joint holders. “However, it stresses the right of children “to continue to enjoy the property that has served as a dwelling”, establishing an alternative use for each parent during periods-quarters, which should be assuming the role of guarantors of childcare, the other must leave the property during that time.

Consulted in the judgment, the judge further agreed that each parent assumes the expenditures for the care of their children’s nutritional needs during periods assume their care, opening a joint account for it to enter the monthly amount of 250 euros each to cover the cost of health care studies and requiring the children and do not cover the Social Security system. As for other extraordinary expenses will be covered at 50%, while both spouses will take in half the fees and amortization of the mortgage burden on a family home. The judge understood that the mother is an officer of the Board while the father runs a business, so they have a similar economic capacity.

Around the dilemma over the choice of a model of sole custody or joint custody, considered “lamentable” and “grossly discriminatory” the current legislative situation that occurs in Spain, “where contradictory regulations coexist depending on the neighborhood’s civil litigant the application of either. ” Regarding the concept of custody of children, notes that “the inequalities that occur are obvious, noteworthy that although the legislature always intended to ensure and preserve the interest and welfare of children, the pattern of to be made dependent on the requirement of fitness for ordinary care of the children is predetermined by ideological positions. “

 In this vein, Judge Serrano said, with regard to these approaches, which “are of a few outdated and reactionary to the progress and continue to value the mother figure as a reference for primary attachment and peripheral father figure as a reference, while others, having overcome this mentality, opt for true equality and parity in the performance of domestic duties, and among the principal is to participate, share and distribute the duty to nurture, care and childcare”. 

“What is not permissible is to assert, as the legal representative of the applicant in its conclusions, that” the mother says security, routine and habit discipline their children need, and also the attention that due to the young age of the children, only a mother can dispense ‘”according to the judge regrets, adding that” today we can not conclude a priori that only mothers can dispense worry about their children’s coverage of their emotional needs and materials ” .

 “They have to overcome gender bias, demanding the interest of children in cases like the present one, favors a system of parental authority that allows the children continue to enjoy a bonding and healthy attachment relationship, as close as possible to the emotional, affection and material that had been making both parents responsible commitment before the time of rupture, “Francisco Serrano ruling.

Its not just the ruling that is interesting, but a number of the comments made by Judge Serrano, in particular that which  cite the mother as a “primary reference” and the father as “peripheral” as being “outdated”; and that we should do away with the general thinking that only a mother can provide the emotional care for the children.  With a recent ruling in the Valencia region which upheld the rule that a Judge must apply “shared custody” as a general rule when parents can not agree, there appears to important progress being made with regard to shared parenting in Spain.  Shared parenting campaigning groups in Spain are pleased with the recent moves, and say that shared parenting is a right for the children, a right they have been denied for too long.  I agree with that  statement, there are lessons to be learned from the recent Spanish rulings, and hope to be gained.