Friday, 19. September 2014
01. 08. 14. - 16:00
Argentinian divorce court judge Ricardo Dutto was so fed up with a War of the Roses custody battle between the parents of two children that he ordered them to spend the next three months turning up once a week to a room in the court to read to their children the story of the Little Prince.
The Little Prince has been translated into 250 languages and sold over 140 million copies worldwide and is meant to help children come to terms with the strangeness of the adult world. It tells the story of a pilot stranded in the desert who meets a young prince fallen to Earth from a tiny asteroid.
The warring couple, not named for legal reasons, are the parents of two boys aged six and 13 that had each taken custody of one of the children, but constantly argued over visitation rights and refused to speak to each other for more than a year except through their lawyers when they met at court in the city of Rosario, in the central Argentinian province of Santa Fe.
Finally after a particularly heated debate the judge decided he'd had enough, and said he would refuse to deal with the case any longer until both sides had gone through a course of reading children's books to their children together – starting with the Little Prince.
He also ordered the parents in their spare time to read the International Convention on the Rights of the Child United Nations and plans to ask them questions about it when they return.
The court heard that because the parents were not speaking to each other the two brothers were also prevented from seeing each other which in particular was causing distress to the younger boy.
The judge's ruling was praised by family law experts in the country like Alzira Yanieri, who said: "I think the sentence is unprecedented but also extremely innovative, and I for one will support it because it looks at things from the point of view of the welfare of the children and not the parents.
"They were clearly not able to speak to each other, but perhaps by being forced to speak to each other via reading something as simple and basic as telling their children a story might help to bridge the gap. At least if they're reading they can't be permanently arguing.
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