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sreda, 19 januarja, 2022

Another Stain on the Reputation of Slovenian Courts: The Vast Majority of Judges in the Family Departments Are Women, Who Discriminate Against Fathers

By: Sara Bertoncelj / Nova24tv

The DOOR Parents’ Association (Društvo DOOR) supports Minister Janez Cigler Kralj, who has so far helped the elderly, the unemployed, and the homeless. But at the same time, the Door Association asked the Minister when he will finally also take time for the children of separated parents, whom the Slovenian judicial system usually entrusts to the care and upbringing of mothers, who sometimes restrict or even prevent quality contact with the children’s fathers. The DOOR Association draws attention to the problem of long, expensive and discriminatory divorce proceedings in Slovenia. Of course, they also share the belief that women are neglected in certain areas and support all efforts to change the situation there as well. On the other hand, they want to point out that the opposite situation can also have a negative impact.

The DOOR Paretns’ Association states on its website that divorce proceedings are often long, expensive, and discriminatory in their determination of custody and contact with the children. They often last for six or more years. As a rule, the annual cost for an individual parent for a lawyer and experts exceeds more than 10 thousand euros. In more than 90 percent of all cases, the mothers get custody of children. Many fathers stop fighting for their children because they run out of money, lose their health, or lose their legal interest due to the children coming of age. They wonder in whose interest is this exhausting fight of parents for something that is not divisible at all.

The DOOR Parents’ Association draws attention to the problem of long, expensive and discriminatory divorce proceedings in Slovenia. Of course, they also share the belief that women are neglected in certain areas and support all efforts to change the situation there. But on the other hand, they want to point out that the opposite situation can also have a negative impact. For example, almost all judges in the family departments of Slovenian Courts are female (with the exception of one single male judge). Official publicly available data also show that children mostly remain in the care and custody of their mothers after the divorce. Of the parents involved in cases where the court decides which of the parents gets the custody of the children, only 1-2 percent are fathers. The problem of this imbalance, or perhaps even discrimination in these decisions, which negatively impact the healthy development of children of separated parents, is further complemented by comparable statistics of employed professionals in social work centres, where around 90 percent are women.

For some time now, the DOOR Association has been trying to draw the attention of Minister of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Janez Cigler Kralj, to this problem. “You have helped the elderly, the unemployed, and the homeless… We support that! But Minister, when will you finally also take time for the children of separated parents, whom the Slovenian judicial system usually entrusts to the care and upbringing of mothers, who sometimes restrict or even prevent quality contact with the children’s fathers,” the Association asked Minister Cigler Kralj on Twitter.

The Association also wrote in its message that someone could interpret the above information as partiality or even unprofessionalism of the women who have to make these decisions. “In principle, we believe in the “good” in people, regardless of their gender. But the statistics are telling,” they pointed out. They suggested to the Minister that judges and professionals be adequately protected and hinted that a solution to the gender imbalance of employees in these two socially extremely responsible and exposed areas should also be found.

Discriminated, abused, slandered, wrongfully accused or wrongfully convicted Slovenian fathers also gathered at a protest rally in front of the Family Justice Department of the District Court in Ljubljana on the 25th of April – this was also reported by journalist Mojca Vočko, who highlighted the names of certain people who supposedly influence the judgments in Slovenian family court proceedings so that the judges can wash their hands of any responsibility. These people are, allegedly, the clinical psychologist Dr Tristan Rigler, his mentor, psychiatrist professor Dr Martina Žmuc Tomori – who was also registered in the State Security Administration of Yugoslavia under code 84.899, psychiatrist Dr Marga Kocmur, psychiatrist MSc Vanja F. Rejec, psychiatrist Dragan Teržič, and psychiatrist professor Dr Peter Pregelj.

Injustices happen on both sides, while the same names also appear on both sides
Interestingly, the name of Martina Breda Žmuc Tomori also appeared in a story published by the media outlet Prava. The story in question is actually the opposite – namely, in this case, it is a mother who has been fighting for her child for years, not a father – and our media outlet also reported on this in the spring. In this case, the district court judge rejected all of the mother’s evidence and based her verdict solely on the expert opinion from the 10th of September 2018, which was issued by the forensic psychiatrist expert Žmuc Tomori – who was not even involved in the criminal proceedings but was appointed as an expert in the civil proceedings. The court therefore took into account Žmuc Tomori’s opinion while ignoring all other evidence of violence and excessive alcohol consumption of the child’s father. On the 7th of August 2019, the High Court rejected the appeal filed by the child’s mother against the illegal and unconstitutional decision of the 25th of January 2018. To make a long story short – the child’s mother Suzana Kozjančič was in custody, the prosecutor proposed the conditional sentence, which would allow her to have contact with her son, but the court prevented it, while the District Court in Ljubljana “was not able to” hold a pre-trial hearing and start the evidentiary procedure throughout her detention of 18 months. To this day, the matter has not been resolved in favour of the child, who is in the most vulnerable years. It seems, therefore, that injustices are happening on both sides and that this should definitely be regulated at all possible levels.

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