Access Denied: Divorced Dads Fight for Kids

Zdravko Ljubas Sarajevo, Zagreb, Belgrade

Courts in the Balkans usually side with mothers in child custody cases. Now some fathers are fighting the system. Kids are caught in the crossfire.

Jovan, Sara, Nikola, Ivana, Goran, Filip, Marija... Names of children involved in custody disputes adorn a cup at the Tata office in Belgrade. Photo: Zdravko Ljubas

The divorce was scrappy but the battle lines were clear. He wanted unfettered access to his two-year-old son, who lived with his ex-wife 10 minutes away by foot in the central Bosnian city of Zenica. She wanted him out of the boy’s life entirely.

In the end, they begrudgingly agreed a compromise: the father would see the boy for four hours every Wednesday and two full days every second weekend.

But soon, the boy’s mother started reneging on the deal, according to the father who declined to be identified. Despite the proximity of their apartments, he often waited weeks to see his son.

“It was especially difficult when I’d take him back to his mother … and he would cry and say, ‘Daddy, don’t go,’” said the father, 35, who is unemployed. “Then two months ago, she started to coach him.”

Read more at Balkan Insight