Padres y Madres Separados

Ayuda práctica, jurídica y psicológica padres, madres, separados, divorciados e hijos

Primer Congreso Internacional de Familia

This is an invitation (see word attachments) to attend or participate in the First International Family Congress, 9-11 August 2006, supported by the Superior Court of Justice of Mexico City, an institution which has reflected the concerns of parents' groups, given access to its facilities as well as participating actively in bringing such discussions into being. This model of professional, parents' group and legislative solidarity seems quite frequent in the Ibero-American world, and gives the pleasure of seeing people communicating in an often very constructive way.

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The invitation is extended by Alejandro Heredia Ávila of the Mexican Association of Separated Fathers, who explains that whereas at the outset his organisation saw the problem only at local level, they now realise, with great shock, that this conflict exists throughout the world and in all societies, irrespective of the cultural, economic, social, ethnic, religious and political conditions and that far from diminishing, it has been growing as a phenomenon until it reaches truly colossal proportions.

Comment - this is hardly surprising. If you take an institution such as the family which successfully includes men, women, children and old people - an inclusive cross-section of society - and you create laws which are designed to exclude one parent and their family from their children, you may expect colossal social disruption - we have effectively participated in a sole custody social experiment which was never based on any sustainable rationale, especially not the interests of our children, but rather brought sexual politics into the world of innocents without need.

The key solution is therefore a reform of the law such that both parents are accorded legal equal status in respect of their children, including continuity of equal residence and decision making. This creates certainty of parenthood where at present the courts create uncertainty and relational chaos, by removing all such power and respect from fit parents and are even extending (this particularly applying in Europe) a form of officially designated parenthood which can easily remove birth parents from a child.

The paradox of the present situation is that although judges often decide in a sexist way to "award residence" to mothers, those adversely affected include daughters, grandmothers, aunts and anybody else who falls foul of this gendered approach, proving that it is quite inappropriate, just as it would be if it were the other way round. Quite simply, we should never have created laws which encourage or even oblige parents to fight over their children's bodies - there is something so indecent about this that it defies words.

I hope that Alejandro will bring to everybody's attention at the Congress the ongoing round of European forums on family rights and equal parenting law reforms, and that we can both encourage other parts of the Americas to participate fully in this international movement for family rights. It would be good to have reciprocal attendance at these conferences and fora, to encourage further coordination, and clear reporting of the substance of the matters covered.

Julian Fitzgerald
Leeds, UK