Françoise and Laurence applied themselves to “to forget”. Forget the two gunshots which, in a context of separation, deprived them of their mother at 13 and 10 years old. But the past came back like a boomerang one day in November 2018, shortly before the anniversary of the murder. “While we thought our scars had healed, we received a letter from the department asking that we finances the old days of a parent that we did not even know was still alivein the name of the maintenance obligation!” storm the two sisters. Article 205 of the Civil Code provides for this duty of assistance towards its parents… But what kind of “parent”? Françoise, 52, and Laurence, 49, are shocked to discover that, to be exempted from this obligation, they must plead their case before a judge, as guilty.
“We do not want to be approached years later by the public authorities who do not consult the criminal record”
Often very young during tragedies, children are the forgotten victims. With their association Children who have grown up*, they thus alert Marlène Schiappa during the Grenelle of domestic violence, to change the law. “In 2020, we won the fight for the principle of exemption from the obligation of maintenance for all children from feminicide., welcomes Françoise. But the creation of a file which identifies these fathers making their children orphans is essential. We do not want to be approached years later by the public authorities who do not consult the criminal record!” Released themselves from the obligation after a media storm, the two sisters could have considered themselves quits. But the drama awakened another wound: that of the cruel separation from their siblings just after the crime.
“Our brother Yannick, 15 at the time, Laurence and I were placed with three different maternal uncles, hundreds of kilometers from each other. Overnight, we had our mother in the cemetery, our father in prison, no more brother or sister », underlines Laurence “the little one”, who prayed to see them again. It is she who, at the age of 20, undertakes to reconnect with her siblings of strangers. Françoise, who was abused by her tutor uncle, fights for common sense care: “We place the children on the maternal side as a matter of principle. However, we did not know these uncles, on the contrary on the paternal side. It may even be in the interest of the child that he be placed outside the family. We must stop with the preservation of blood ties at all costs !” It was also in the name of these ties that their father had retained parental authority.
“We obtained a suspension of parental rights upon arrest, even after ‘simple’ domestic violence”
Until then, the murdering father could object to the child seeing a shrink, demand visitation rights in jail, make the big decisions in the life of his children. With other associations, they changed this law in 2020. “We obtained a suspension of parental rights upon arrest, even after ‘simple’ domestic violence. Because we know what trauma it is, we have experienced it”, says Françoise. The suspension is only valid for six months, which they consider insufficient. “The child does not have to see his fate in suspense, linked to an assassin or a bully », continues Françoise, who wants the measure to be final. However, far from them the idea of erasing the father at all costs.
“The child, like the adult, must remain free to maintain ties. At certain times of life, one may feel the need, in order to build oneself, to see one’s parent again. Myselfnotes Françoise, I did it when he got out of prison. To understand… that there was nothing to understand.” Sentenced to 12 years in prison, the man whose state wanted his children to finance his old age had neither remorse nor regret and felt he had “served his sentence”. Today listening to other children who have been hurt through their association, Françoise and Laurence have rediscovered their bond. They meet each winter in Angers, each summer in Cannes, where they grew up separated. They started a family and each have three children, like a repair of the past. Their mom could be proud.
*More info on grownupkids.org (also on Facebook and Twitter).
Article published in the magazine Between us from April to June 2022.