In a situation when the marriage / partnership is disintegrating, we believe child care is the most important thing the partners should attempt to agree on, even at the price of involving third parties in the negotiations – mediators, lawyers, common friends, anybody who can help define a future system of child care in an amicable way without unnecessary tension.
Another option is that a court makes an authoritative decision on child custody. In every case, the matter must be resolved before the divorce of marriage or after the breakdown of the parents’ relationship, along with the issue of child support.
What we can do for you
We will compile an agreement on custody of your children. An agreement between both parents is usually a faster and more pleasant solution that situations when the court decides about custody. If appropriate, we will be happy to represent you in negotiations with your former partner or their attorney.
We will represent you in court proceedings and do everything to ensure the court favours the best solution for you and your children.
We will ensure the recognition and enforcement of decisions issued abroad.
Basic questions and answers concerning child custody after divorce or separation of parents
When do Czech courts decide, and when do foreign courts?
a) Czech courts will decide about custody primarily in cases when the child’s usual place of residence is in the Czech Republic. This refers to the place where the child is integrated into family and social life. Hence, the usual place of residence differs from the permanent residence where the child is registered, and which is of a purely administrative nature.
b) In exceptional cases, the matter may be assigned to a Czech court from another EU member state, if all the following conditions apply simultaneously:
- the child has a special relationship to CZ (e.g. it is the child’s usual place of residence, the child is a Czech citizen or it is the usual place of residence of one of the parents),
- the Czech court is more appropriate for hearing the matter or part thereof due to its location,
- such assignment is in the child’s interest.
c) Czech courts may also decide about the case if they have jurisdiction to decide the divorce of marriage, under the condition that
- at least one of the spouses has parental responsibility for the child,
- and the spouses/bearers of parental responsibility have expressly or otherwise accepted the jurisdiction of Czech courts,
- and it is in the child’s interest.
Note: Parental responsibility is not the same as child custody. In short, the difference is that even upon divorce or disintegration of the parents’ relationship, both parents of the child are entitled to it and it includes many more rights and obligations than just custody (e.g. deciding about the child’s place of residence, medical care, property management, etc.).
d) Czech courts may also decide about custody if the child has strong ties to the Czech Republic, in particular because
- one of the parents has their usual place of residence here, or due to the child’s citizenship,
- again, however, all the parties to the proceedings must expressly or otherwise accept this jurisdiction when commencing the proceedings,
- and it must be in the child’s interest.
When is the matter governed by Czech law and when by other law?
Czech law will be decisive for the matter if the child’s usual place of residence is here, except for exceptional cases e.g. due to refugee status, where the matter is governed by the laws of the country where the child is presently staying.
Who will have custody of the children after divorce / separation of the parents?
Czech courts generally entrust the child to one of the following forms of custody:
- Exclusive (the child is placed in the custody of only one parent; however, this does not mean that the other parent has no influence over general upbringing and development of the child),
- Alternating (both parents alternate custody, generally at regular intervals – alternating custody is deemed the basic rule; the use of other alternative must be justified by the child’s interests),
- Common (both parents have custody simultaneously – may be used only in exceptional cases, e.g. when the parents are still sharing a household).
In practice, Czech courts give mothers custody of children. For instance, in 2017 the courts gave the mother custody of the child in 80% of cases, alternating or joint custody to both parents in 12% of cases, and custody of the father or another person in the remaining cases.
How long do the custody proceedings take and what is their usual course?
The shortest possible child custody proceedings in CZ typically last around one or two months, while the longest may take a year and a half or two years, in extreme cases even longer.
Typical course of proceedings:
- The court appoints a guardian for the child – usually a social-legal child protection authority, which represents the child in the proceedings.
- The guardian contacts the parents and investigates their household.
- Proceedings are conducted before the court.
- In complicated cases, the court may appoint an expert e.g. in psychology or psychiatry, to assess the child’s relationship with its parents and other issues.
- The court decides about custody or approves the parents’ agreement.
Are decisions issued abroad applicable in CZ?
A decision from another EU member state is applicable in CZ without further legal proceedings, but it is necessary to submit a request for the enforceability of this decision to the district court. Only after the court accommodates this request is the decision valid also in the Czech Republic. For instance, the alimony obligation, the obligation of alternating custody and other obligations imposed by the court of the other member state on the child’s parents start being counted from this date. Decisions from countries outside of the EU, of which the minor is a citizen or which is his/her usual place of residence (given that no other party has Czech citizenship) is also recognised in the Czech Republic without further proceedings. As in the previous case, however, it is necessary to request the enforceability of this decision from the court.
What are the costs for child custody proceedings?
No court fees are paid in proceedings on the custody of minors, and each party bears its own costs without the right to compensation from the other party or the state. The court may grant compensation of costs only in exceptional cases. However, the court may order one of the parents to compensate the costs of the state, typically for compiling expert opinions.