A case from Spain in which a court has awarded sole custody to the ex-husband rather than the mother. The argument being that she works too hard as a lawyer to be caring for the children sufficiently. This bringing into rather sharp focus the clash between career progression – something that requires dedicated hard work – and the needs of children for care.
It would, for example, be entirely unfair if a woman were to lose custody in a manner in which a man would not. Equally, vice versa. So, the question is, do courts award custody to stay at home mothers rather than career minded men? If so, awarding custody to a stay at home father seems entirely just. It is, after all, the interests of the children which are paramount – both supposedly and actually in law.
No, this isn’t a case about a stay at home father. But the point still stands. Goose and gander – custody decisions are supposed to be gender neutral. This is also about Spanish law, not English, just to further complicate.
A successful female lawyer has vowed to take the Spanish state to court after losing custody of her children for allegedly working too much. Elena del Pilar Ramallo Miñán, a solicitor formerly of Santander Bank, was ruled to have “spent too much time away from the conjugal home” when she had child-sharing responsibilities for her two daughters, aged seven and 13, revoked on International Women’s Day in 2018. Ms Ramallo, from Galicia, northwest Spain, is to argue that the verdict “clashes head-on” with women’s rights to personal and professional fulfilment, and that the hearing gave unfair weight to the word of her ex-husband and her mother, the only witness to have been called.
Would a bloke who jet sets around the world be likely to lose custody of his children to a fellow parent who was rather more rooted in the children’s daily lives? If so, what’s wrong with this decision?
“As a mother, a woman and a citizen, I demand that nobody else in Spain may ever lose their children over the fact that they work and love their work,” she wrote.
Well, yes, but is that the way everyone – not just women – is treated?
The family court in La Coruña heard complaints by the grandmother that Ms Ramallo, who has a PhD and is the author of seven legal books, did not pay enough attention to the girls and “was always anxious to devote herself to her career.” Her ex-husband said that she was “not in the right state of mind” to share custody.
And there’s the thing. Is that a patriarchy imposing itself? Or a matriarchy? Granny being, you know, female?