Divorce in Czech Republic and conditions for its obtaining. Divorce in Czech Republic can be approved by the Czech court only. A petition filed by one of the spouses is always required. There are two types of proceedings based on whether an agreement exists between the spouses or not.
Agreement between the spouses – Czech divorce
The divorce sis based on two written agreements: (i) agreement concerning the arrangements in respect of the minor child or children for the time after the divorce and (ii) agreement concerning their property situation, their housing and, where appropriate, the maintenance and support for the period after this divorce.
The court will approve the divorce without investigating the cause(s) of the breakdown if all the following conditions are met (i) the other spouse joins the petition for divorce, (ii) the marriage has lasted at least one year, and the spouses have not lived together for more than six months and (iii) the spouses who are parents of a minor child which has not yet acquired full legal capacity have agreed to provide for the written agreement concerning the arrangements in respect of the minor child or children for the time after the divorce and the court has approved the agreement.
Before the Czech court approves the divorce the spouses have to provide the Czech court with written agreement with certified signatures concerning their property situation, their housing and, where appropriate, the maintenance and support for the period after this divorce.
In other cases the court will investigate the reasons for the breakdown and its decision to grant the divorce remains within its decretion. If spouses have a minor child who has not yet acquired full legal capacity, the court shall not divorce the marriage until it decides on the situation of the child at the period after the divorce.
The court will not grant the divorce if (i) the spouses have a minor child and special reasons dictate that it is against the interests of the child (e.g. physical or mental disability) and/or (ii the spouse who was not primarily responsible for the breakdown of the marriage through violation of matrimonial obligations disagrees with the petition for divorce and would be seriously harmed by the divorce. The court will then reject the petition for divorce if extraordinary circumstances indicate that the marriage should be preserved. However, if the spouses have not been living together for at least three years, the court will dissolve the marriage if it has broken down.
Applicable law in divorce proceedings between spouses who do not live in Czech Republic or who are of different nationalities
In the Czech Republic, the termination of marriage by means of a divorce is governed by the legislation of the country of which the spouses were nationals at the time of the commencement of the divorce proceedings.
If the spouses are nationals of different countries, the termination of the marriage by divorce is governed by the legislation of the country in which both spouses have their habitual residence.
If the spouses have neither the same nationality nor habitual residence at the time of the commencement of the divorce proceedings, the the termination of the marriage by divorce is governed by the Czech legal system.
Should the divorce be covered by a foreign legal system that does not allow the termination of marriage by divorce, or only under exceptionally difficult circumstances, and provided at least one of the spouses is a citizen of the Czech Republic or at least one of the spouses has their habitual residence in the Czech Republic, Czech law will apply.
General jurisdiction in divorce matters in Czech Republic
In matters relating to divorce, jurisdiction shall lie with the courts of the EU Member State of the nationality of both spouses or in whose territory:
a) the spouses are habitually resident
b) the spouses were last habitually resident, insofar as one of them still resides there
c) the respondent is habitually resident
d) in the event of a joint application, either of the spouses is habitually resident
e) the applicant is habitually resident if he or she resided there for at least a year immediately before the application was made
f) the applicant is habitually resident if he or she resided there for at least six months immediately before the application was made and is either a national of the Member State in question.
Legal consequences of a divorce in Czech Republic
A spouse may revert to the original surname in six months from the day the decision on the divorce becomes final.
Joint property of spouses ceases to be held jointly on their divorce. If the joint property is liquidated or destroyed or reduced in size, the former common obligations and rights are dissolved through a settlement. The settlement is based on an agreement or a decision of a court. During the settlement, the primary focus is on the needs of dependent children.
If within three years of the divorce no settlement agreement is concluded or no petition for its settlement by court ruling has been filed, tangible movable assets are deemed to belong to the person who uses them as an owner exclusively for his or her own needs, the needs of his or her family or the needs of his or her household. Other tangible movable assets and immovable assets are deemed to be co-owned with each co-owner having an equal share; the same also applies to other property rights, receivables and debts.
A divorced spouse has an obligation to maintain the other divorced spouse who is not capable of supporting himself or herself where this inability has its origin in the marriage or is related to it. The obligation arises from an agreement or a decision of a court (if proposed by one of the spouses).
Should the spouses or divorced couple fail to agree on maintenance, the court may award maintenance based on a proposal from the spouse who did not primarily cause the breakdown of the marriage and who suffered serious damage as a result of the divorce. Such maintenance is awarded for no longer than three years after the divorce. The right to maintenance ceases if the entitled spouse remarries or enters into a registered partnership.
Requirements of a divorce application in Czech Republic
An application to commence divorce proceedings and an application to commence annulment proceedings are filed at the district court for the district in which the couple had its last common residence in the Czech Republic. The provision must be met that at least one of the spouses is resident in the district where the court has its jurisdiction.
Should this court not exist, the general court of the spouse who did not file the petition to commence proceedings has jurisdiction, and if there is no such court, then jurisdiction lies with the general court of the spouse who did file the petition to commence proceedings.
The general court of a natural person is the district court for the district in which this person has his/her residence, and if he/she does not have a residence, the district in which he/she is staying.
Residence means the place in which a person resides with the intention of staying there permanently (there may also be several such places, so all these courts may count as the general court).
The petition must be made in writing, it must show clearly which court it is intended for and who is filing it, as well as clearly stating the parties (the whole name, surname, birth number or date of birth, address of permanent residence or postal address) and the marriage to which it refers (when the marriage was entered into and the circumstances, development and causes of its breakdown).
The petition must be signed and dated. In the case of a petition where both spouses have agreed on the divorce, it must contain the signatures of both spouses. The facts alleged in the petition should be supported by documentary evidence.
Recognizing a decision on divorce issued by a court in another EU Member State in Czech republic
Decision on divorce issued by a court in another EU Member State may be recognized in Czech republic on grounds of Council Regulation (EC) No. 2201/2003 if issued after 1 May 2004. If issued prior to 1 May 2004 and at least one of the parties to the proceedings is a citizen of the Czech Republic, decisions on marital matters are recognised on the basis of a special decision of the Supreme Court of the Czech Republic.
Decision on divorce issued by a court in another EU Member State may also be recognized in Czech republic on grounds of certain bilateral agreements (Slovakia, Poland, Hungary) on legal aid, binding on the Czech Republic or the Convention on the Recognition of Divorces and Legal Separations (the Hague, 1 June 1970).