Unlike many other European countries, Slovakia does not offer a ‘no-fault’ divorce option. If you want to divorce in Slovakia you will have to provide reasons to end your marriage, and the court will review your individual case and look at all the factors when ruling on your divorce. So what are the grounds for divorce in Slovakia? What happens to your children when your marriage ends? And how are financial matters dealt with? Here we provide a guide to divorce in Slovakia.
Divorce laws and grounds for divorce in Slovakia
In Slovakia, you can either jointly agree to divorce or petition to end your marriage without the agreement of your spouse. In either case, one of you will be named as the ‘petitioner’ and the other as the ‘respondent’.
You will have to provide reasons that your marriage can no longer continue and that you cannot be expected to return to married life. The court will examine these reasons and establish the causes or the breakdown of your marriage, even if you both agree to the divorce.
The court can agree to your divorce if one of the basic conditions is breached: namely that your marriage is ‘deeply and permanently broken’. Note that the court will not grant your divorce if it believes there are insufficient grounds to do so.
When deciding on a divorce the court will always consider the interests of any minor children. Custody and care issues will always be taken into account during the divorce proceedings.
Child custody, contact and maintenance arrangements on divorce in Slovakia
If you can agree arrangements for your children when you divorce – for example residence and child maintenance – a court can approve this agreement.
If you can’t agree then the court will make an order. This order can include which parent the child lives with, contact rights for the non-resident parent, and the level of child support.
Since 2010, ‘joint custody’ has been the default system in Slovakia. A court may therefore decide that your child should spend a period of time with one parent, and a similar amount of time with the other parent.
Day-to-day decisions regarding your child’s everyday life can be made by either parent, but major issues (taking the child to another country, approving medical care etc.) must be made with the knowledge and consent of both parents.
The court will consider the best interests of your child and will make an order that will help your child to lead a ‘normal’ life with both parents.
Factors the court will consider when making an order include:
- your child’s personality, abilities and skills
- the living conditions provided by each parent
- the emotional background of your child
- the stability of your child’s future environment
- the ability of both parents to agree and cooperate
- the emotional bond of your child to siblings and other relatives.
With regard to contact, if you can agree a contact schedule with the other parent then this does not need court approval. If you can’t agree, the court will make an order that respects the right of your child to care and contact with both parents.
If the parent with custody prevents contact with the other parent, the court may order a change in custody if this refusal of contact is repeated and unjustified.
The court can also order that child support is paid but is not obliged to make such an order.
Slovakia adheres to the Brussels IIa regulations and is a signatory to the Hague Convention on Child Abduction.
If your child is taken out of Slovakia without your consent, or taken to Slovakia from another EU or Convention country, you can seek the assistance of the relevant authority to secure the return of your child.
How property is settled on divorce in Slovakia
Marital property in Slovakia is determined as ‘community property’ and this regime ends on divorce. There are three ways to divide your assets:
- by mutual agreement
- through the court
- by lapse of time.
Typically, the shares in community property are split equally between the spouses. The needs of your children will be taken into consideration, as well as how each of you took care of the family and contributed to the acquisition of community property. This includes caring for the house and children.
If no agreement has been reached within three years of divorce, it is assumed that all personal property belongs to the spouse who uses them for their needs, or the needs of the family and the household. The rest of the property is on co-ownership and should be split in equal shares.
Claiming spousal support/alimony on divorce in Slovakia
On divorce, you can claim spousal support from your ex-spouse. If you cannot support yourself then you can request that alimony is paid, depending on their assets, income and ability to pay.
If you can’t agree this amount between yourselves, the court can rule on a petition filed by either spouse. Note that the court will then consider the causes that led to the breakdown of your marriage when deciding on an order.
Spousal support may be awarded for a maximum period of five years from your divorce. This can be extended in exceptional cases, for example if you are caring for a child with a long-term disability or if you require constant care for a health issue.
Spousal support ends if you remarry or if the providing spouse dies.
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