Joint parenting: SC asks Centre to respond over reforms

The Supreme Court. DH file photo

The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Centre to respond to a plea for putting a legal regime for “joint parenting” in cases of divorce of parents to ensure that the child got the love and affection of both the mother and the father even after their separation.

A bench of Justices S A Bobde and B R Gavai sought a response from the Union government on a PIL filed by NGO 'Save Child Foundation', which contended that breakdown of marriage was not the end of being a parent as the parental responsibility still continued with the courts ordering one of the parents to pay school fees and other expenses.

The petition sought a direction for reforms in laws related to child custody, considering the best interest of the child and her rights. It said the word 'child custody' gave negative connotations which can be substituted with the words 'parenting the child life'.

“Due to rise in separation and divorce rates and in the changing society, children's rights need to be secured, as the matter of the fact that due to the dispute between parents, children are unable to maintain personal relations and direct contact with both the parents on a regular basis,” it stated.

The petitioner stressed on the need for a paradigm shift, from the substitution model of the post-separation parenting to a rights-based approach of the parenting, in line with the guidelines of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

It pointed out that at present, the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956 and the Guardian and Wards Act, 1980 were being considered as the sole laws to deal with the custody of a child, which have been “miserably inadequate” as far as the best interests of the child were concerned.

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