Ukraine Divorce & Family Law

Divorce in Ukraine is generally obtained through the courts, although it can be done without a judicial process in certain circumstances. So, how does divorce work in regards to Ukraine? Who gets custody of your children, and what contact rights do parents have? And how is your property divided? Here we provide our guide to divorce in Ukraine.

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Divorce in Ukraine

There are three types of divorce in the Ukraine:

  • Divorce at the civil registry office
  • Divorce in court with agreement
  • Contested divorce in court.

Divorce at the civil registry office

If you have no children, then you can apply for a divorce at the civil registry office if you both agree to end your marriage.

You can file for divorce without consent if:

  • your spouse is declared missing
  • your spouse is legally incapable
  • your spouse has been convicted for a crime and has been sent to prison for more than 3 years.

In these situations, the civil registry office issues the divorce decree within one month from the date of application.

If you have minor children or if one of you does not consent to the divorce, then your marriage will be dissolved in court.

Divorce in court with agreement

If you agree to the divorce and you have a minor child, then you can petition for a divorce if you provide a written agreement concerning:

  • where your child will live
  • how much child and spousal maintenance will be paid
  • the conditions of the non-resident parent’s involvement in the upbringing of your child (what rights they will have).

This agreement will be certified by a notary, and your divorce will be granted after one month.

Contested divorce in court

If you or your spouse does not consent to ending your marriage, one of you must petition for a divorce. You will generally need to speak to a lawyer as your case will be heard in court.

How are child custody, contact and support agreed on divorce in Ukraine?

If you agree on arrangements for your child (see above) then you can submit this agreement to the notary to be certified. If you child is aged 10 or over then they must approve this arrangement.

When your child is aged 14 or over they can decide where to live, and with whom.

If the court is asked to make a decision about arrangements for your child, they will consider factors including:

  • how each parent has exercised their parental responsibilities to date
  • your employment and work schedule
  • your child’s age and health
  • the attachment your child has to each parent
  • your living conditions and income.

The court will undertake comprehensive research into the personalities of you and the other parent, for example to find out how seriously you treat the education process.

Preference is often given to the mother, particularly for younger children. However, the court is obliged to investigate all circumstances, and if there is evidence that a mother is not exercising her parental obligations then the court can award custody to the father.

If you’re the non-resident parent, you should be involved with your child and you can apply to the court for a visitation order. The order may include details of places and times for visitation and arrangements for holidays.

Under the Ukraine Family Code, parents are required to pay child support after divorce until your child is aged 18. If you agree these payments with the other parent, then you can have your written agreement certified by a notary.  If you don’t agree, the court can impose child support, and the level of this should not be decreased to less than 50% of the minimum wage for one child.

Since 2006, Ukraine has been a signatory to the Hague Convention on Child Abduction. This means that if your child is taken out of Ukraine without your consent, or taken from your normal ‘home’ country to Ukraine, you can apply for assistance from the relevant authority in having your child returned to their normal country of domicile.

How property is divided on divorce in Ukraine

In Ukraine, any property division claims are generally filed separately from the divorce process, so as not to hold up the granting of the divorce.

Ukrainian law states that property acquired by either spouse during your marriage is jointly owned, irrespective of which spouse generated the income. This means that the economically ‘weaker’ spouse (for example, if you suffered ill health or cared for children) is not disadvantaged.

The exception to this is ‘private property’. Private property includes property you acquired before you married, property purchased after you separated, gifts, inheritances or property for personal use.

Spousal maintenance/alimony rules on divorce in Ukraine

Under the Ukrainian Family Code, divorce does not end a spouse’s maintenance obligations. You are obliged to support the other spouse after divorce if they:

  • are pregnant
  • are raising a child under the age of 3, or caring for a disabled child
  • became disabled while you were married or within a year of your separation
  • will reach the pension age within 5 years.

You can agree a maintenance amount yourselves. If you don’t agree, the court can impose an order based on a percentage of the total net income and/or a fixed sum of money.

Spousal support is normally paid monthly, and the court has the discretion to increase or decrease the amount to reflect other relevant circumstances.

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