October 21, 2020

The Government incorporates into the children’s law the mandatory suspension of the visitation regime if the father has a protection order for gender violence


The Government plans to make the suspension of the visitation regime between a minor and his father mandatory while a protection order for gender violence against him is in force and there are indications that he has “witnessed, suffered or lived with” such abuse. This is established by one of the amendments incorporated into the Organic Law for the Comprehensive Protection of Children and Adolescents against Violence, approved in first reading by the Council of Ministers last June. This Wednesday the deadline for submitting modifications to the norm promoted by the Vice Presidency of Social Rights and to which PSOE and United We can incorporate a package of amendments agreed between both groups has ended.

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The law now continues its journey in Congress, where it may be modified, but the intention of the Executive is to reinforce the obligation of judges to suspend “visits, stay, relationship and communication” between the minor and the accused. The idea is to generalize a measure that has long been demanded by organizations that work with victims and that is hardly taken: according to the latest data from the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ), in the second quarter of the year only 3.58% of the protection orders issued as a precautionary measure for gender violence, the visitation regime was suspended. The scarcity of its application led the State Pact against Gender Violence, which has just turned three years old, to include this as one of the measures to be implemented in the judicial sphere.

To do this, the amendment reforms the Criminal Procedure Law, which already requires judges to “rule” on this issue when there are minors. However, it is established that the judicial authority may, ex officio or at the request of the Prosecutor’s Office or the accused, “not agree to the suspension by means of a reasoned resolution in the best interests of the minor.” In that case, it is required that there is always a prior assessment “of the situation of the parent-child relationship,” adds the text.

Equality, Social Rights and Justice are the ministries that have worked on the amendments presented jointly by PSOE and United We Can, with the exception of the one that proposes prohibiting the attendance of minors to the bulls, promoted alone by the latter. The Socialists, in this case, have preferred not to do so through the Children’s Law.

But in addition to the one referring to the visitation regime, the package includes another one designed to prevent “theoretical approaches or criteria without scientific endorsement that presume interference or adult manipulation” such as the so-called Parental Alienation Syndrome (SAP) “can be taken into consideration” in the judicial sphere, as Irene Montero announced last week. The SAP sometimes serves to remove custody from women who have previously reported sexual abuse or gender violence, for which the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ) itself has demanded that the magistrates not use it. In addition, the Civil Code is reformed to “reinforce the prohibition of granting joint custody in cases of gender violence.”

For its part, the Vice Presidency for Social Rights has incorporated several amendments, including the one that details a more specific definition of the Welfare Coordinator, a figure provided for schools; the development of the content of the mandatory protocols in protection centers, which must contain “simple, safe and accessible” mechanisms so that minors “can present complaints or reports” or the establishment of a commitment by the Government to develop “a procedure Common for the determination of the age “of children and adolescents who enter Spain without documentation, the so-called unaccompanied foreign minors.

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