More than 17,000 couples in Andalucía divorce every year and half of them have children. Around 5% of these marriage break-ups are conflictive and this can have a devastating effect on the youngsters. Studies have shown that many children in this situation not only suffer psychological problems but also imitate aggressive or violent behaviours within their own family circle.
The Junta de Andalucía’s Ministry of Justice, in collaboration with Malaga university, has now begun a pilot programme to protect children in situations such as these, under which lawyers and psychologists work with the family when requested to do so by a court.
This ‘parenting coordination’ scheme is in force or is being tested in other parts of Spain as well, including Navarra, Aragón, Valencia, the Balearics, Catalonia, Madrid and Galicia. It aims to help families who are continually going to court because one party does not comply with the divorce conditions or visiting rights, or because of interference from other relatives, for example.
The first step in the process is to ascertain now many times the couple have been to court and what problems they are experiencing with regard to making decisions which affect the children.
An action plan is then drawn up in collaboration with both parents’ lawyers, followed by an initial online meeting and then a meeting in person if possible. The aim is to evaluate everything which affects the child or children, and try to reach agreement between the parents on matters which are causing conflict between them.
When order is restored to a certain extent, the team sends a report to the judge who involved the parenting coordination team, as he or she will be the one to take decisions regarding each case.