Parents suspected of abuse will not be able to visit their children

  • In cases of separation and divorce, the judge may exceptionally agree on a regime of encounters in the interest of the minor

Parents with “well-founded indications” that they have committed acts of family or sexist violence stays, visits and communication with their children will be prohibited, according to the decree law approved this Tuesday by the Catalan Government to protect the life and safety of children in cases of vicarious violence. The Catalan Executive thus modifies the articles of the Catalan Civil Code on the custody of minors. The reform announced by the ‘minister’ of Justice, Lourdes Ciuró will be of immediate application for the courts of justice and of “obligatory fulfillment”. Until now it was only the judge’s assessment to agree or not. The objective is to reduce the number of minors who die at the hands of their parents. This year five victims have been registered in Spain, one of them in Catalonia.

The new regulations also veto visits and relationships with children for the parent who is in a criminal proceeding for attempting against the life, physical or moral integrity, freedom or sexual indemnity of the partner or ex-partner or of the children, as well as in the cases in which he is in prison for these crimes. In civil proceedings for separation and divorce, the judge may exceptionally agree on a regime of stays or communications in the interest of the child, provided that the child has been previously heard.

Although the Catalan Civil Code already excluded the custody of children to the parent against whom there is a final judgment and when there are well-founded indications of family or sexist violence, the express obligation towards the judge with regard to the stays of the children with the abuser was not included. Therefore, in situations of family or sexist violence, this veto was until now only a possibility that the judge could assess or not. Likewise, it should be taken into account that the courts usually prioritize that relationships between parents and children are not broken, even in cases of abuse.

Consent for psychological care

Another aspect that the decree law deals with is the psychological care and assistance of minors. In these cases, the consent of the parent against whom a criminal procedure for abuse is followed will not be necessary. Nor will this permission be required when a sentence has been handed down and as long as the criminal responsibility is not extinguished.

Although no prior complaint has been made, consent will not be mandatory when the mother receives assistance, accredited by the care services for women who suffer sexist violence. Psychological assistance to children over the age of sixteen requires their consent.

Vicarious violence is considered the highest expression of violence towards children. The aim of the aggressor is to cause psychological damage to the mother. Although the vicar is a type of sexist violence, the decree law also includes family violence when prohibiting or suspending communications and stays of the violent parent with their children.

Figures that grow year after year

Related news

The number of creatures victims of vicarious violence grows year after year. Thus, in the State as a whole, a total of 5 minors have died this year 2021 at the hands of their parents, 1 of them in Catalonia. This fact usually occurs when the couple has dissolved or is separated and during the regime of stays with the parent who does not have custody.

Most deaths of children from vicarious violence occur during stays with the father. Thus, of the 47,000 protection orders for women that were granted in 2019 in Spain, only 3% of visits between children and parents were suspended. These data, from the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ), confirm that in most cases the visitation regime with violent parents was not suspended. “Vicarious violence is one of the cruelest forms of sexist violence,” said the ‘councilor’ Ciuró. “The objective with the decree law is to protect the lives of minors as much as possible,” he said.

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