Demonstrators claimed the country’s legal system is biased in favor of women and does not provide equal protection and rights for men, and called for reforms to the Ley de Pensiones Alimentarias, which covers the areas of alimony and child support.
Eugenia Quesada, representative for the Men’s Support Foundation (FUNDIAPHO), said marchers hope to educate President Luis Guillermo Solís to injustices faced by men in the country’s family courts.
“We want to educate [President Solís] […] We want to tell him that there are exceptions and many men cannot pay their alimony. For example, the terminally ill will go to jail for not paying the fixed amount,” Quesada said.
Quesada also said supporters are frustrated with the family court system, which despite being legally obligated to resolve cases in a two month timeframe, routinely takes a year or longer to hear cases.
Demonstrators also said that despite meeting their financial obligations, fathers are often times denied visitation with their children.
“I have three and half years fighting for my six year old daughter. Her mother abandoned her and left her with her grandmother, who has forbidden me from seeing her. It has been five months since I’ve seen her,” demonstrator Wendel Sequeira told a reporter from the daily La Nacion.
FUNDIAPHO organized a similar demonstration in November 2012, in which demonstrators called for the creation of an institute that could provide men with protection and support when assaulted by their partners or facing unfair legal treatment.
“We also want to eliminate jail for not paying alimony and child support, demand serious punishment for noncompliance of visiting hours (for parent-child visits), and we want the domestic violence act to be applied equally to both sexes, and not only to be for women’s protection,” Quesada said at the time.
A bill that calls for reforms to the alimony and child support law, presented during the previous administration by lawmaker Jose Roberto Rodriguez, is stalled in the Legal Affairs Committee of the Legislative Assembly.
PAC chief Emilia Molina said she was unaware of when the bill might be heard.
“I am of the view that [alimony] should be paid. What is not good is to imprison those who do not pay as it creates a vicious cycle,” Molina said.