Child Custody

The need for family and divorce lawyers specialization

On May 19 we lawyers celebrate Lawyers Day. I, as a rule, ignore this festive dates, especially when I come across lawyers who would be better off working in some other areas!

Here is a case that was brought to me recently. A little girl, 3 or 4 years old, is, so it seems, maltreated by her father and her paternal family.

Mariana (fictional name) is mainly in the company of her mother and visits her father on alternate weekends and also sleeps there at Wednesdays. It turns out that after these visits to the father, the girl shows worrying signs of lack of hygiene and insect bites, denotes anxiety and disturbance, and reports aggressions suffered.

The existence of evidence of maltreatment is attested by doctors, psychologists and even by the school itself.

Given this information, what does the lawyer who defends the mother do? Nothing…! He says that by reporting these events to the Family Court, the mother would face the risk of the court imposing a shared custody arrangement!

Of course, this lawyer is unaware of the most elementary rules regarding child custody arrangements and the practice of our family courts. That doesn’t prevent him, however, accepting cases for which he isn’t qualified.

The Portuguese Bar Association, notwithstanding the complaints, doesn’t take any steps regarding much needed rules regarding specialization of family and divorce lawyers.

Meanwhile, at her lawyer’s recommendation, Mariana’s mother keeps sending her to her father’s house every other weekend!

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