Parental responsibility and maintenance of minor children under Czech law
The parental responsibility in the Czech Republic includes rights and duties of parents consisting in caring for the child disregarding marriage of the parents. This includes, without limitation, care for the health, physical, emotional, intellectual and moral development, the protection of the child, maintaining personal contact with the child, ensuring his upbringing and education, determining the place of his residence, representing him and administering his assets and liabilities. Parental responsibility is created upon the child’s birth and extinguished upon the child acquiring full legal capacity. The duration and extent of parental responsibility may only be changed by a court.
Besides parental responsibility the parental duty to maintain and support their children in the Czech Republic goes even further – it exists unless the children are able to earn their living on their own, which can be in many cases up to 26 years of age if the child studies.
These responsibilities and duties are usually executed by both parents. A problem arises when the parents decide to divorce. In the Czech Republic, before the court rules on the divorce, the extent of the parents’ responsibility towards the child as well as maintenance and support have to be resolved first.
Such resolution can be done either via an agreement between both parents or by a decision of a court.
How the child care may be resolved in the Czech Republic
Under the Czech Civil Code section 907 paragraph 2 the court takes account into the child’s personality, especially his talents and abilities in relation to the potential to develop and to the life situation of the parents, as well as the emotional inclination and family background of the child, upbringing skills of each parent, existing and expected stability of the upbringing environment in which the child is to live in the future, emotional ties of the child to his siblings, grandparents, or other relatives and unrelated persons
Also the court shall always take into account which of the parents has until that point properly cared for the child and properly provided for his emotional, intellectual and moral upbringing, as well as which of the parents is better suited to provide the child with healthy and successful development.
The competent Czech court is the one in the place of residence of the minor child. This local jurisdiction is protection of minor and that the closest court could get the most information.
According to Czech law there are several ways of resolving the problem of which one of the parents will care for the child:
1. The Czech court may entrust a child to the care of one of the parents
If the court entrusts a child to the care of one of the parents, the other one cannot in fact execute his parental responsibility, which leaves the entire responsibility with just one parent. However, the other parent still has right to visit the child and both parents still have duty to maintain and support. The court shall regulate the extent of their maintenance duty or shall approve their agreement on the maintenance amount.
There are certain requirements that the court requires to assess the amount of maintenance. For example confirmation of mother´s/father´s additional maintenance to another minor child, the decision of the appropriate authority on providing social welfare mother/father and all persons living with the mother/father in the household, confirmation of the mother´s/father´s persons´ living with mother/father in the household incomes, the mother´s/father´s account statements stating the current final balance, extracts from registers (commercial, land), medical reports in case of health problems and other documents.
Here you can see the recommended tables how to calculate child support in the Czech Republic (these are not legally binding but as issued by Czech Ministry of Justice the courts tend to follow them):
Child’s age /Percentage of the parent’s net income for child maintenance in the Czech Republic
0 – 5 years /11 – 15 %
6 – 9 years /13 – 17 %
10 – 14 years /15 – 19 %
15 – 17 years /16 – 22 %
18 and more years /19 – 25 %
If the child has full legal capacity, the court shall rule on the maintenance only on grounds of a child’s petition
2. The Czech court may entrust a child to alternate care
Shared care means that the parents “take turns” in executing their responsibility and the time periods when they do so are determined by the court’s decision. Both parents have duty to maintain and support and the maintenance amount is regulated in the same way as in clause 1).
3. The Czech court may entrust a child to joint care
The requisite of joint care is the fact that both parents are able to agree on everything concerning the upbringing of their children including duty to maintain and support, they agree with the joint care and the court approves such agreement. This occurs usually when even after the divorce the parents still live together with their children.
It is also important to highlight that when the court is to decide on the duty to maintain and support, it may issue a precautionary measure on the grounds of a petition, by which the duty to maintain and support is established temporarily until the final decision is made.
4. The Czech court may entrust a child to care of a third person
This situation can occur if it is necessary in the interest of the child. It will be an exceptional and usually temporary situation. Third person can be a relative, a close person. Other forms of care include foster care or institutional care.
The Czech Constitutional Court has judged in judgement I. ÚS 2482/13 general criteria for decision-making on child care. On the issue of child care, the Constitutional Court sets out the principles of a fair trial for the practice of ordinary courts by saying that “in the proceedings in which it is decided to whom the child will be entrusted is necessary for decision-making in the best interests of the child for all persons who have genuine interest in the child care, the relevant criteria to be assessed on its own, and if all these persons are equally fulfilled, it is desirable to entrust the child to the joint or alternate education of those persons or to take measures that will enable such a procedure in the future.”
In the above-mentioned judgment, the Constitutional Court further discusses four criteria, which the general courts must take into account, in the best interests of the child, in the process of adjusting educational conditions: (1) the existence of a blood bond between the child and his or her assignment to the caretaker; (2) the degree of preservation of the identity of the child and of his or her family ties in the event of his or her assignment to the care of the person; (3) the ability of the person seeking custody to ensure his / her development and physical, educational, emotional, material and other needs; and (4) the wishes of the child.
Dangers of not fulfilling the duty to maintain and support
Neglecting due maintain and support is a criminal act under Czech law and as such the wrongdoer may be punished by a prison sentence for up to 1 year. If, however, someone neglects this duty deliberately for longer than 4 months, the sentence can be up to 2 years of prison or even more if the child is in consequence exposed to indigence.
The wrongdoer may also be deprived of his driving license, particularly if there is a concern that the wrongdoer would counteract or encumber his duty to maintain and support.
Does this only concern divorce in Czech Republic?
The answer is no. Married or not, the parental responsibility as well as the duty to maintain and support towards the children still exists. If the parents are not able to agree on these matters, the court has to decide in the best interest of the children.
Does this only concern money and care?
The answer is no again. Parental responsibility is a very broad term and it encompasses basically everything a reasonable parent should do in order to ensure a proper upbringing for his children. It might happen that the parents would not be able to agree on other important things concerning their children, such as:
- which school will the children go to
- which doctor will they visit
- what free time activities will they perform
- how often will they visit their grandparents
Even in these cases the court has to decide for the parents if they disagree with one another. According to the Czech law the interest of the minor child is always at the first place.
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