Come vacations, the fight between warring couples intensifies over the custody of children and taking them outstation.
The non-custodian parent (parent who doesn't have permanent custody but has regular access) approaches the court, seeking more time to take the child on vacation.
Before every vacation – Summer, Diwali and Christmas – there is a sharp increase in the number of such requests by non-custodian parents. During vacations, on an average, 5-6 applications are moved in the seven family courts, said advocates.
While custodian parents (those who have permanent custody of the child) make all possible excuses to deny access, the non-custodian parents travel across states for a few hours of access. Even this is done under supervision.
Advocate Paresh Desai, who practises at the Badra family court, said, "This is a delicate issue. Equal love and affection are not received by children of separated or estranged parents."
Custodian parents are reluctant to offer access to non-custodian parents. On an average, 90 per cent mothers have the custody of the child and they object to overnight access even when courts are keen on giving equal opportunity to parents, added Desai.
"In one case, a father has been trying to get regular access to their five-and-a-half-year-old daughter. The mother has been denying the same. When the father submitted a request before the family court, the mother said she denied access as she was breast-feeding the child," said advocate Vivek Kantawala.
The family court granted access to the father and said that the mother should also go along on vacation.
"The father also has equal right of access. Even the child is entitled to the father's love," said Kantawala.
Similarly, a man who travels 36 hours from Thiruvananthapuram to Mumbai once a fortnight only to see his child was awarded overnight access during vacation. The judge observed that the daughter was comfortable in his custody and allowed access.
It's not that only non-custodian fathers fight for children's custody. A Goan lady, who was in a live-in relation with an Italian man for a few years and adopted a child, is now seeking high court intervention for access to the six-year-old girl.
Once a fortnight, the lady travels from Goa to Pune, where the man is now settled, to meet the girl. Last week, the HC allowed half-vacation access to the woman.
Celebrity lawyer Mrinalini Deshmukh says it's not easy to handle custody matters. "It is difficult for the child to choose the parent in the first place and then see further fight during vacations."
"Wherever possible, I help custodian-parents to get access to the other parent. A child needs love and affection of both parents for a balanced well-being," she said.