Custody matters in case of divorced parents
Parents who have decided to part ways often have many disagreements, but these disagreements must not prevent children from having a relationship with both parents. According to § 143 (1) of the Family Law Act a child has the right to maintain personal contact with both parents. Both parents have the obligation and right to maintain personal contact with their child. Subsection (2) of the same section stipulates that a parent shall refrain from any action which is harmful to the relationship between the child and the other parent or which hinders raising of the child. The same provision applies if a child is cared for and raised by another person.
Parents have four options in terms of the procedure of access to the child on which they can agree
- The most child-friendly and the best option for the family is such where the parents agree the procedure of access to the child among themselves with the help of a family therapist, if necessary.
- If the parents cannot reach a mutual agreement, they need to turn to the child protection worker of the local municipality, who will advise the family and help them to arrange the procedure of access.
- If parents wish to have a legally valid agreement, they can turn to a notary public, who shall work with the parents to formulate an official procedure of access. However, if the mutual relationship between the parents is sour and the disagreements are considerable, it could be impossible to agree on a notarised procedure of access.
- The worst option for the child for establishing the procedure of access is to have recourse to a court of law. The court has to involve the child protection worker of the local municipality for passing the ruling. In some cases court ruling can take several years to be passed. § 563 of the Code of Civil Court Procedure stipulates that if a parent informs the court that the other parent violates a court ruling regulating access to the child or an agreement entered into in a notarially authenticated format or hinders compliance therewith, the court summons, based on a petition by the parent, the parents to appear before the court in order to settle the conflict pertaining to the child by way of agreement. The court need not summon the parents to appear before the court if application of a conciliation procedure or subsequent extra-judicial counselling has already failed. Parents can find more detailed information about the conciliation procedure in the Conciliation Act.
Free legal assistance
It is also possible to consult an attorney to find out legal aspects of the matter: what rights does each of the parties have www.juristideliit.ee. If there is evidence that the other parent wishes to abduct and take the child to another country, the parent can file an application to a court of law seeking provisional legal protection and free legal aid at www.kohus.ee. If the parents share the right of custody, then a written consent formulated as an application would be sufficient for the child to leave the country.