France to withdraw parental rights from those convicted of domestic violence or incest

Authorities may also temporarily suspend parental rights during judicial proceedings against a parent for a crime against the other parent or for sexual assault against their child.

Palais Bourbon - National Assembly of France.
Palais Bourbon – National Assembly of France. Photo courtesy: Elliot Brown

France will remove parental rights from a father or mother of a child in cases of conviction for incest or violence against the child or the other parent, following the final vote by Parliament on Tuesday.

“Today we prioritize the general interest and, above all, the best interest of the child,” said socialist MP Isabelle Santiago, who introduced this bill over a year ago.

The main measure is the automatic removal of parental rights from the convicted parent for assaulting their child or the other parent, or in cases of incest, unless the judge decides otherwise.

“It is our duty to protect the child victim from their abusive parents, because the home should always be a place where they can grow in peace and safety,” said Justice Minister √Čric Dupond-Moretti, ensuring that French legislation on these issues will become “the most comprehensive and protective in Europe.”

Authorities may also temporarily suspend parental rights during judicial proceedings against a parent for a crime against the other parent or for sexual assault against their child.

Child rights advocacy groups have criticized the gaps in the judicial system that until now left children vulnerable or even under the custody of an alleged abuser during a lengthy investigation.

On the other hand, during parliamentary debates on the project, there were also disagreements between the National Assembly and the Senate regarding the possible extension of the suspension of parental rights to cases of “deliberate violence against the other parent resulting in total work incapacity exceeding eight days, when the child was present at the time of the incident.”

Finally, lawmakers agreed to remove this measure from the text. “We give criminal courts all the necessary tools to address this fundamental issue and better protect children,” said Senator Marie Mercier.

According to an independent commission initiated by the government in 2021, Ciivise, 160,000 children are victims of sexual assault each year, with 97% of the perpetrators being men (in 27% of cases, the parents).

In its final report in 2023, the commission recommended suspending parental and visitation rights of a parent under investigation for raping or sexually assaulting their child, and systematic withdrawal in case of conviction.

Regarding spousal violence, law enforcement recorded about 244,300 victims in 2022, the vast majority being women.

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