Introduce shared parenting concept at beginning of marriage disputes: HC
Chandigarh: The Punjab and Haryana high court has advised the central government to take steps for introduction of shared parenting concept in marriage disputes at the level of initial stages, when matter reaches before police and trial courts.
The high court bench of justice Ritu Bahri and justice AK Verma observed that “If the concept of shared parenting is advised to the parents at the initial stage, they will not have to travel for years in the courts,” the bench said, adding that even the Law Commission report of 2015 states that the child has a birthright to meet his parents as well as grandparents.
India has a practice of always giving supremacy to one parent when it comes to who will take care of a child. The concept of shared parenting proposes awarding joint custody of children in divorce cases or awarding custody to one parent, in exceptional circumstances, but visitation rights to the other.
The bench was hearing a divorce plea, wherein additional solicitor general Satya Pal Jain had apprised the court that the ministry of law and justice proposes amendment in the Guardianship and Wards Act, 1890, and various Sections of the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956. As these fall under concurrent list as per the Constitution of India, the department has sought views of all the state governments, he had told the court.
The bench appreciated the move and further observed that it was seized of a number of cases in which emotional and psychological needs of the child are not being properly taken into account while deciding the divorce petitions. The court referred to a case wherein when child brought before the court was crying constantly as she did not want to lose the company of both the parents.
The bench also asked amicus curaie in the case, Divya Sharma, to assist court as to what kind of infrastructure will be required for solving the problems of the children where parents are seeking separation. It added that the concept of shared parenting can also be extended at the initial stage when parties approach the police station. In Chandigarh itself there are 1700 complaints pending in the police stations with respect to domestic disputes, the bench added.
The bench further referring to 2015 report said that many disputes can be resolved through mediation. However, in the case of mediation professional assistance may be required as neither the court nor the mediators are qualified to understand the child psychology. A time-bound resolution is a key factor to achieve the ultimate objective of ensuring that the welfare of the child is met. The child support should continue after the child attains the age of 18 years and the period may extend till the child reaches the age of 25 years, says the 2015 report seeking bringing of guardianship law in India in the tune of modern social considerations.
“Children are the worst affected in proceedings of divorce and family breakdowns. Often, parents use children as pawns to strike their own bargains, without considering the emotional, social and mental upheavals that the children may face,” the report notes.
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