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Europe Takes Another Look At Divorced Fathers
 DIVORCED MEN PROTEST AT THE THESSALONIKI COURTHOUSE
Thessaloniki, 23 March 2006 (19:18 UTC+2)
A father of two underage children, divorced for the past seven years tries in vain to reach them. After the divorce his ex-wife took them and left the town of Naousa where they used to live as a family. After an investigation that lasted one month, the father found out with the help of police that his children and former wife had moved to Athens. He abandoned the effort to win custody or the right to visit them after long court battles. He stresses that he has not seen them for more than 6.5 years. When a short while ago he decided to go to their school they said to him: who are you; we don't know you.
The above mentioned case is just one example of what many divorced fathers have to go through. They formed the Association for Male and Paternal Dignity and today many of its members gathered at the Thessaloniki courthouse in a show of support to the association president on the occasion of the court trial for the custody of his children.
They maintain that the most common problem is that they cannot visit their children leading, eventually, to estrangement, while they also protest for the huge sums of money they have to pay as alimony, stressing that in many cases alimony payments do not correspond with their real income and as a result they face big economic problems.
President Nikos Spitalas said that the association has branches all over the country with a total of 1,500 members.
He said that parental care and children custody should be institutionally and legally established for both parents, adding that visitation rights for both parents and alternate residence for the children should also be guaranteed by law.
Referring to the visitation problem for divorced parents, he said that in many cases it results from the fact that court decisions are not being implemented.
According to Mr. Spitalas, Greek internal revenue service figures show that there are an estimated one million divorced couples in the country.