What is a good alternating guard?

"Who has two houses loses his reason." In 2014, a bill was contradictory to this adage, considering double domiciliation of children of separated parents. How to put into practice this often complicated alternation?

Hélène Fresnel

"I remember those silent afternoons with my father, who was waiting for me once a week in a cafe, I was 10. I drank my chocolate without being able to speak. We were so embarrassed by this lack of privacy, all the noise and the world around us ... When I divorced, a few years ago, this memory jumped in my face and I am delighted that my son of 6 years and I do not have to settle for an episodic "right of visit", delighted not to impose this torture: he lives with me four days out of seven. "

The testimony of Laurent, 50 years, divorced for a year, is not representative of national statistics: in France, more than one in four children live with separated parents and almost one in five never sees his father according to the INED. 71% of parents' children in front of a judge reside with the mother, 12% with the father, and 17% are in temporary residence according to a study of the ministry. If they do not go so far as to see everyone as a little Norman Bates in power, all the specialists recognize that the disappearance of a parent can lead, in the long term, to dual relations that are too fusional, or even to stifling closed doors.

Is it to try to rebalance wobbly situations and open the way to alternating residence more widely than the bill passed on June 27, 2014 (see box) provides for a domiciliation of the child with both parents? ? Yes, confirmed the deputy Erwann Binet, co-author of the text adopted by the National Assembly. Without wishing for "systematic and equal shared custody," he says he wants to "establish a level playing field between the two parents" and to suppress the "right of access and accommodation" (the non-custodial parent does not see his child only on weekends or some afternoons). The latter comes back, according to him, "to designate a winning parent and a loser, a sub-parent". However, "it is important that when the marital couple disappears, the parental couple continues to exist," he says.

Two is better than one

By asserting this principle of double domiciliation, legislation can make the principle of recourse to alternating residence a little more commonplace. It would be, according to the formula of the child psychiatrist Frédéric Jesu (in The white paper of the alternating residence , Erès), to offer the possibility to any form of coparentality ready to assume the relational intelligence and empathy for children ".The continuity of the presence of both parents in their daily lives would thus be guaranteed and preserved.

This is the feeling of Daniel Marcelli , child psychiatrist and president of the National Federation of Schools of Parents and Educators. "The alternate residence, he says, helps maintain a regular framework of accommodation with both parents, spending time with his child, living with him, which is essential.What is terrible with the right of visit is the lack of regularity and continuity in the reports. "

But for the system to work, there are still some conditions to be met. The first is that parents are able to agree. This is the case only in "a tenth of situations, just after the breakup," notes Daniel Marcelli. When the wounds of the separation have not healed yet, relaying from one parent to another is sometimes tense. "At first, when I discovered my 9-year-old son on the phone with Marc, his father, coming back from work, I had tears in my eyes, remembers Marion, 40, separated from her father's father for six years, I knew it was important that he could keep the link with him and I was doing like if nothing had happened, but I would have wanted Mark to be swallowed up in a bottomless well. "

When the child is at one of his parents, the one who is absent must continue to exist: 'child must be able to talk to him on the phone, write to him or chat via the Internet,' confirms Daniel Marcelli. A position not always easy to hold, but to bring children into the world comes back, whether we like it or not, to sign "a contract of codependence for life," says the psychologist and psychoanalyst Sylviane Giampino, who sits at the Association national psychologist for early childhood (Anapsype). And it is precisely when everyone wishes to withdraw from it that the commitment sealed by the birth of the children resurfaces.

There is no question of making radical life changes without discussing it with the other parent. We must solve this painful paradox as we can, and accept the idea that the arbitrations will not remain "engraved in the marble, because, on the one hand, they were taken at a time when everyone suffers, illuminates Sylviane Giampino And, on the other hand, it is unthinkable to spend your life fighting to maintain a system that sometimes plunges everyone into difficulty as situations change: children grow up, leave ... ". The organization of the family must therefore be able to evolve in terms of rhythm and logistics, and according to the age of the child.

No half-time

This is the last point that was debated during the discussions on the bill. Fearing that double domiciliation would lead to half-time accommodation for both parents, childcare professionals, including child psychiatrists, launched a petition of protest, assuring that "the alternating parity residence [50% at one, 50% in the other, as a priority mode of care in the event of parental separation runs a proven risk for the emotional development of children ".

Among these signatories, Professor Bernard Golse, Head of the Department of Child Psychiatry at Necker Hospital in Paris, explains that he is opposed to the 50-50 "mode before 3 years, even when parents are of As the toddlers need continuity with a place of reference and a main figure of attachment, the father can quite form this figure, even if it seems to me that the women remain a little more available to children than men, then the move to parity should be done gradually, over time. "

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