Belgian family courts shared parenting judgments


Belgian Family Courts Shared Parenting Judgments

In this paper I want to present the results of research by myself and the team I’m working together with, in hundreds of recent judgments in cases in which equal shared time parenting has been asked by one parent. They show that too large differences exist between the different courts and individual judges. Among the motivations used, the age of the child is the most often used one. So I’ll show how to adapt the parenting time arrangement to the age of the child; for the youngest children these age adapted arrangements inevitably are equal time shared parenting arrangements. I want to add a model of arrangement for reducing the disparity of the judgments, which can be used in mediation and as a default judgment that can be adapted by the parents (and children) to their own family situation.


Mr. Jan Piet H. de Man
European Institute for the Best Interests of the
Child, Belgium

Jan Piet H. de Man graduated as a teacher (mathematics, physics, economics, ethics) and as a Master in Psychological Sciences (Brussels University). As a psychological consultant in children’s institutions, he is very happy to have given about 50 children, who otherwise would have spent their childhood in consecutive institutions, an adoptive or foster family. Confronted with a separation and divorce, he studied family mediation, attending the very first mediation training in Belgium. He practiced family mediation for about 12 years. In 1992 he founded the European Institute for the Best Interests of the Children. He focused on Shared Parenting after having read the results of the outstanding Belgian research “Divorce in Flanders” (E.g.: Vanassche, S., Sodermans, A., Matthijs, K. (2013). Commuting between two parental households: the association between joint physical custody and adolescent well-being following divorce. Journal of Family Studies, 19 (2), 139-158.) He is collecting all scientific research on Shared Parenting worldwide. Since 2004, he published articles on Shared Parenting in Dutch, German, French and English and gave presentations in Germany, Austria, Italy, USA, Canada, Spain (see, e.g., As he is also interested in law and (best practice) jurisdiction, these publications and presentations include a model for a Parenting Plan which can be used by parents, mediators, lawyers, judges etc..

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