Family Court

Family Courts vs. European Human Rights Court

In a recent case heard by the European Human Rights Court (EHRC), a major decision was reached concerning the enforcement of visitation for parents.

The basics of the case were that the father Semen Gen of Ukraine was denied visitation with his daughter, Polina, by the child’s mother. And after exhausting all avenues to him in the state courts Mr. Gen filed his petition with the EHRC.

Semen Gen and his daughter Polina

In the initial complaint, Polina’s mother who is simply called V. in the documents had filed a complaint stating, “That the father was spending too much time with his daughter.” At this point, the Father and Grandparents filed a counterclaim informing the courts that the mother had prevented them from seeing Polina.

Throughout the process, V. kept filing for suspensions of the visitation enforcement orders until ultimately this case arrived at the EHRC.

The European Human Rights Court finally stated that the Ukrainian Government was held accountable for not having legislation in place to properly enforce the Father’s (Mr. Gen) visitation with his daughter Polina. They awarded a monetary award to Mr. Gen and the Grandparents for Ukraine not having protections to enforce a father’s rights to see his child.

Why is a case like this important in South Carolina or in the U.S.?

South Carolina has two proposed Shared Parenting Bills in the State House now. These bills would require family court judges to alter their long standings from awarding child custody to simply one parent. These bills would require that every custody begins with both parents having equal custody of their child/children. They would also require factual evidence to be presented why equal custody should not be afforded in the best interest of said child/children.

It has been the common practice of family courts to award custody to one parent and forcing the other parent to take on the role of visitor. This long-standing practice has been proven to cause minor to severe mental and physical trauma upon a child which they carry with them into adulthood, and in many cases pass on to their own children.

Many parents in South Carolina, as Mr. Gen in Ukraine, have court-ordered visitation with their child but have very little legal aid to enforce this visitation when the custodial parent denies it.

Law Enforcement Officers do not enforce such orders and simply state to the complaining party “That’s a civil matter. You need to go back to court on it.”, but in the aspect of child support arrest parents for getting behind, which is also a civil matter.

Many parenting communities in South Carolina and in the U.S., feel that this double standard of law needs to be altered. And that Family Court Judges need to educate themselves more on the aspects of child custody. One parent, we spoke with stated, “We should not have to ask a court for permission to be a Parent to our own child!”

Another question asked by many is why is this not a “no brainer”? Well under South Carolina Statute children are technically considered property, with no real voice in the legal system or rights. At one point in South Carolina, a parent could purchase their children from the other parent after a divorce or custody battle. This practice has long since been done away with, but it has been replaced with other monetary gains for the legal system itself. These ranging from Social Security Title IV D to large legal bills parents have to pay to fight for their children.

Many states and countries have changed their family courts to a shared parenting model to ensure equality not for the parents but for the children of these conflicts. Currently, 18 States have Shared Parenting laws in place to protect children’s rights to both parents. A large number of other states have shared parenting bills pending.

Several Judicial leaders around the world have stated more changes need to be made in the aspects of Family Law to ensure children are given their civil and legal rights in these courts.

Rep. Cezar McKnight
Rep. Stewart Jones

The two aforementioned Shared Parenting bills are Sponsored by Rep. Cezar McKnight (D- Clarendon, and Williamsburg) and Rep. Stewart Jones (R-Greenwood and Laurens), that two separate party members are sponsoring the same sort of bill shows that this issue is not a political issue, in its core, it is an issue of HUMAN RIGHTS/CHILDREN RIGHTS.

In this case from Ukraine, it is a sad commentary that the grandfather of young Polina passed away in March without seeing his granddaughter prior to his passing.

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