Sunday, October 18, 2009

Colombia: A Law in Favor of Joint Custody and Against False Accusations

The webpage of the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo, published last October 15th of 2009 an article by Andrea Linares Gómez titled “Pérdida de custodia por falsa denuncia o si un padre daña imagen del otro, plantea proyecto de ley” (“Law Project Proposes Loss of Custody for False Accusations or If a Parent Damages Image of the Other). ( The article discusses the law project that wants to establish joint custody in Colombia. This project responds to a tendency in Colombian society. According to family judge Ana Lucía Suárez, although in the majority of cases is the mother who wants the children’s custody, more fathers ask for it with more frequency.

It is always good news knowing that another country joins the world trend in favor of joint custody, especially if that country is as important and has such an influence as Colombia. However, what catches my attention is that the project establishes that if one of the parents damages his/her children’s image of the other parent or makes malicious sexual abuse accusations against the noncustodial parent, that parent will lose custody of the children. The project also provides for taking custody rights from any parent who physically abuse his/her children.

Federico Cardona, president of the Colombian organization Fundación Primero la Infancia (Infants First Foundation), that gathers noncustodial fathers and mothers, states that false accusations are the most common problem among separated couples. These false accusations are used as an instrument to alienate the other parent from his/her children and to create in them a negative image of the noncustodial parent. This dynamic, as we all already know, is typical in Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) cases.

The problem of false accusations during custody disputes is a very serious one. In countries like Puerto Rico and Chile, the phenomenon reaches epidemical proportions. The main reason of this proliferation of false accusations is precisely its impunity: in family courts, anyone can accuse another of any atrocity, knowing that courts, with the excuse of protecting minors, will ban any contact between the accused and his/her children, knowing also that when accusations are proved false, the bond between children and the absent parent would have been weakened, and the accuser will not be liable for his/her malicious accusations. The achievement of this piece of legislation is that, as many pro joint custody groups have been asking for a long time, at last would exist a juridical figure through which the malicious accuser could be brought to court and be judged.

I hope that this pro joint custody law will be approved in Colombia, and that other Latin-American countries follow this example.

No comments:

Post a Comment