Bill to accelerate divorces, adoptions

A new draft bill, to be submitted in Parliament this week, foresees a swifter process for issuing divorces, provisions to promote the joint custody of children when a couple divorces and the simplification of the state adoption system. The brainchild of Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis, the bill also proposes a controversial cohabitation provision that would grant heterosexual couples living together the same rights as married couples. If the bill is approved, married couples who file for divorce will have to wait only two years for the decision to be made final, compared to four years now. Another significant aspect of the bill is geared toward protecting the children of couples seeking divorce by proposing that custody of the children be shared by the two parents, unless a court deems that there is «significant reason» for just one parent to assume responsibility. The bill contains a long list of possible reasons for such an arrangement, including the indifference of one parent, displayed through their failure to see the child regularly or live up to their financial responsibilities, and attempts by one parent to stop the other from seeing the child. The same bill also seeks to facilitate those trying to adopt a child through the state system, a notoriously complex process that can take up to six years. The bill contains provisions aimed at reducing to a minimum each child’s stay at adoption homes. Finally the reforms would give the rubber stamp to a proposed cohabitation law. The law would allow unmarried couples to acquire all the tax, insurance and social benefits currently enjoyed only by married couples simply by signing a standard notary contract.

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