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Montenegro’s lawyers trained to help achieve justice for every child

PODGORICA, 5 July 2018 - In a perfect world, every child should have at least one parent who cares about his or her best interests. Since this is not a perfect world, children sometimes need legal representatives. Last October, approximately 30 lawyers in Montenegro were trained to represent children in family-law proceedings.


Lawyer Olja Mihailovic, in Podgorica, in July 2018, talking about the ways to protect child's best interest when during a high-conflict divorce parents are blinded by their conflict – UNICEF Montenegro / Dusko Miljanic / 2018

Olja Mihailovic, a lawyer, was one of the training participants. She explains that a temporary representative is appointed by the court. The aim is to protect the interests of a child involved in the case of a high-conflict divorce between his/her parents.

“If the court determines that a child, as a party, is not adequately legally represented in a dispute for the protection of the child’s rights or in a dispute related to exercising of the parental rights, they shall appoint a temporary representative of the child,” Olja explains.

According to her, one of the key issues is that people going through a high-conflict divorce can hardly make a distinction between their partnership relations and their role as parents. “They are completely blinded by their partnership relations and they do not notice their children, so at this point only we, who are involved in the proceedings, view the children in the right way and can recognize their interests,” Olja says.

In order for all the people involved in the proceedings to be able to recognize and protect the interests of children as well as possible, the Ministry of Justice, in cooperation with UNICEF, is organizing training courses for different professionals.

“Training is very important, because we all need to improve our skills and knowledge. In some way, the legal representative must act as a child psychologist in order to communicate well with the child and succeed in protecting his/her interests,” Olja points out.

She believes that the amendments to the Family Law have significantly contributed to a better understanding of the principles of protection of the best interests of the child: “In the previous legislative solution, the best interests of the child were more or less declarative, but now we have an article specifying the criteria that determine the best interests of the child. We have a legislative framework that is, in my opinion, ideal.”


Nevena Petrusic, an expert, in Podgorica, in July 2018, pointing out how important it is to hear the voice of the child when his/her parents are divorcing – / UNICEF Montenegro / Dusko Miljanic / 2018

Nevena Petrusic, an expert who participated in the process of amending the Family Law, also says that Montenegro can be proud of its legislative framework. She believes that in the forthcoming period, further training should be provided for all professionals participating in such proceedings.

“It is especially important for the people from different systems to be trained together, and they will in turn, each in their own role, each with their own task, and yet all with the same goal, find a solution that will best meet the needs of the child and enable his or her voice to be heard, in the situation when a child is going through such proceedings”, Nevena explains.

All professionals involved in “high-conflict” proceedings are exposed to great stress and often bad experiences. However, they agree that, in spite of this, their sense that they are helping children get through a difficult stage of life is a reward for the efforts they are making at the same time.

 

 
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