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I am a member of the Athens Bar Association. As a barrister I have handled mainly family law cases, including cross- border family disputes such as international child abduction cases, while I also practice criminal law.
Furthermore, I am a pro bono member of the NELFA legal team (Network of European LGBTIQ* Families Associations).
I offer subsidized legal aid only in criminal defense cases.
Relevant experiences and positions
I completed my LLB in Athens National and Kapodistrian University and I also got an LLM in Private International Law and Law of International Transactions in the same university. I have also completed a semester at the University of Copenhagen, focusing on international law.
As a member of the Athens Bar Association, I have handled several family law cases with international element before the Greek courts, while I have also assisted in cases before the UK High Court of Justice (Family Division), drafting legal opinions about Greek Law and providing evidence as a Greek Lawyer. I used to be a partner in Yiannatsis & Associates Law Firm, while now I am a solo practitioner.
As a pro bono member of the NELFA legal team (Network of European LGBTIQ* Families Associations) I’ve worked with same sex couples living abroad pursuing the legal recognition of their families in Greece and I am advocating for legislative reforms in family law. I am also the author of several articles about international family law.
Some personal questions
What is your opinion on the law / case law on child relocation in your country?
I believe that Greek Law and especially Greek courts deal with child relocation cases in a way that prioritizes the child’s best interest, as it should be, and not the rights of the parents.
his means that the judge will examine, amongst other things, the relationship of the child with the primary caregiver, other siblings and family members, the capacity of the child to be integrated in the foreign environment (whether the child speaks the foreign language or not, its psychological condition and social skills etc.) and whether the parent wishing to relocate has a realistic relocation plan established (job offer, housing, schooling etc).
This may be hard for the litigating parents sometimes to be at peace with, but in the end, it helps us as legal professionals to feel that we contribute in the issuing of a decision which will ensure the best possible reality for a minor and will make a change in the child’s life which is for the best.
What should parents know before starting a court procedure about child relocation?
Parents should know that the road can be long and that their personal expectation may not identify with what is best for the child. No matter how hard it is to accept that your child could be better living with the other parent in another state, it is a possibility one has to accept in the beginning of the procedure and also consider alternative solutions, such as visitation plans that could work better for both themselves and the child.
What do you think will change in the future in this area of law?
I think that the mechanism to efficient the return of the child will be linked more to the social reality of the “abducting parent”, who usually will not be in the position (financially, psychologically and socially) to initiate and carry through child relocation proceedings in the country of habitual residence. The country of abduction sometimes serves as a refuge for the parent and the child moving away and the criteria for the non-return of the child do not always reflect this social reality. So, I think the change at first will take place by means of interpretation of the non-return criteria, as it already happens in some legal orders in cases of domestic violence and especially psychological abuse.
What is your advice to parents dealing with international child abduction?
I would advise them to have a forward-looking perspective. What happened between parents maybe wrong but any judge who will handle the case will not approach it in a “punitive” way: the child will not be returned to “punish” the “abductor” parent and vice versa, the child may return although the “abducting” parent may have been wronged in the past by the “left behind” one. As in any family law case the parents should distinguish their expectations and wishes from the judgement for what is best for the child and I personally believe that this approach helps to eliminate a lot of emotional pressure that keeps parents stuck in both a personal and procedural level (as litigation becomes never-ending).