Note: While Russia is not part of the European Union, it is a member of the Council of Europe, and is bound by the European Convention on Human Rights.
It’s a small price for Russia to pay for the loss of a child, but the ability to hold the country responsible for failing to protect the father-child relationship could mean big changes in the ways countries enforce parenting orders.
In case A.B.V. v. Russia – no. 56987/15, a Russian father received €15,000 (just over $17,000 USD) after authorities failed to enforce a court order, ultimately costing him his relationship with his child. The courts found the actions of the state (or lack thereof) to be a violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
The convention reads:
Right to respect for private and family life
- Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence. 2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
Parental Alienation Supported by the State
The father and mother involved in the case were living together but not married when their child was born in January 2010. This caused delays in establishing contact rights when the mother moved out in July and cut contact. From June 2011 to July 2014, the courts worked to prove paternity and establish a parenting order. Unfortunately, the mother refused to comply.
The father was not able to see his child until February 2017. The mother continued to avoid meetings. The next time he saw his child, she didn’t want to speak with him. Their father-child relationship was permanently damaged by authorities failing to enforce a contact order.
Protecting Family as a Human Rights Construct
While attitudes toward parenting rights differ greatly from country to country (and sometimes, from state to state) the European Convention creates an obligation for all of its members to keep family ties strong. There’s potential for this court decision to make big waves in policies regarding court order enforcement and in attitudes toward parenting agreements in general.
The size of the award pales in comparison to the price this father and child paid, but there is hope it paved the way toward a new attitude regarding father’s rights.