On March 4, 2002, a law adopted on the initiative of Ségolène Royal established shared residence in the event of separation of the parents, in the name of “the best interests of the child”. Twenty-one years later, this mode of custody is still not privileged, according to journalist Briac Trébert who points out France’s shortcomings in terms of co-parenting in a book-investigation entitled Why so much hatred (Ed. Ouest-France ), published on March 17.
“The shared residence is progressing very slowly. There is a form of status quo because the subject remains very controversial, he observes. Less than 12% of children live in alternating residence while the number of separations increases. »
Among the 4 million minors whose parents were separated in 2020, 11.5% were “work-study”, or 480,000 young people, compared to 10.6% in 2018, according to INSEE. “The others resided mainly or exclusively with one of their parents, most often their mother (86%). »
France “is not ahead” in the field of “parental equality” compared to Belgium, Norway, Denmark or even Sweden, “which experience rates of alternating residences sometimes close to 50%” , notes Briac Trébert who denounces the absence of public policy in this area.
“Alternating residence cannot be a single model for everyone”
Questioned, at the end of 2022, by a senator on the promotion of this type of childcare, the Minister of Justice, Eric Dupont-Moretti, recalled that according to INSEE the egalitarian alternating residence (half the time with each parent) “had increased by 20% between 2016 and 2020”. “The law in force already requires the judge to consider alternating residence as the first hypothesis, he underlined, adding that, if this choice “can be encouraged”, alternating residence “cannot to be a unique model for all”.
This mode of custody is obviously excluded in a context of violence but also when the parents are geographically distant. “The two must live in the same city, they must agree, the family organization allows it and the two dwellings must be large enough, specifies Sophie Plassart, former judge for family affairs (JAF). The conditions are therefore not always met to set up joint shared residence. Many parents organize themselves differently, with just one day of the week with the other parent, for example, in addition to every other weekend.
A report by the High Council for Equality between Women and Men, published in 2017, notes that “if the residence of children is mostly fixed with mothers, it is because fathers do not ask for it”.
A mode of care adapted under certain conditions
This statement needs to be qualified, according to Briac Trébert. “Judges still too often believe that it is up to the mother to take care of the child and some lawyers discourage fathers from applying because the case law is unfavorable in this court,” he observes. Me Barbara Régent, co-founder of Avocats de la paix, adds: “The problem is that there is no national consensus on the matter and that everything depends on the judge, she recalls. In addition, there is a culture of litigation in France which pushes parents to confront each other when they should be encouraged to dialogue ”, pleads this activist for family appeasement, who is organising, Monday, March 20, a colloquium on “the culture of amicable agreement” in family law, in the presence of the Keeper of the Seals.
Long decried, especially for young children, shared residence is better perceived today by specialists, recognizes child psychiatrist Bernard Golse. “I myself have evolved on the issue,” he said. If the parents get along, if they are in communication, if they do not live far away and if the child has had time to build a reference link with one of the two, this mode of custody is suitable from the age of three, or even two and a half. »
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