How to get divorced in Croatia (without kids)

Every third marriage concluded in Croatia ends in divorce and most end around the 15th year of marriage. Divorce isn’t fun, no matter the circumstances. It can be made harder when you’re in a foreign country and aren’t sure what to do or where to go.

The divorce process in Croatia is much easier if spouses have no children together. Spouses have two options – to initiate a consensual divorce or a lawsuit. In some cases, alimony may be granted.

This article is the first part of our series on divorces, specifically for couples without children. The next article will cover the divorce procedure for couples with children.

If you have been married or divorced abroad and need to register your marriage or divorce in Croatia, hop over to this guide.

In this post, we cover:

The facts are these…

How to get divorced in Croatia if you have no kids

Can you get divorced in Croatia?

Not everyone qualifies to get divorced in Croatia – even if this is where you live. Whether you can or not depends on a lot of factors that change depending on your particular situation.

With regards to divorce, there are two scenarios:

  • Your marriage is already registered in Croatia
  • Your marriage is not registered, and you cannot register it

If your marriage is already registered, then the jurisdiction where you held your last registered address will govern the procedure.

If your marriage is not registered, it is important to know that only those with Croatian nationality may register their marriage in Croatia. This does not mean only Croatians can get married here. It just means only marriages (where at least one spouse is a Croatian) can register a marriage after the fact, regardless of where it took place.

[Read: How to register a marriage in Croatia]

So, what does this mean for people who cannot register their marriage?

Maybe you can get divorced in Croatia, maybe you cannot. It’s not black and white and every situation is different. Let’s look at the law.

Here is an excerpt from the “Law on Family”. View full law here.

Mjesna nadležnost

Članak 455.

(1) Za suđenje u povodu prijedloga za sporazumni razvod braka nadležan je sud na čijem su području bračni drugovi imali posljednje zajedničko prebivalište.

(2) Ako je u bračnim stvarima sud u Republici Hrvatskoj nadležan zato što su bračni drugovi imali posljednje zajedničko prebivalište u Republici Hrvatskoj, nadležan je sud na čijem su području bračni drugovi imali posljednje zajedničko prebivalište.

which translates to…

Local jurisdiction

Article 455.

(1) The court in whose territory the spouses had their last joint residence is competent for the trial regarding the proposal for amicable divorce.

(2) If in matrimonial matters a court in the Republic of Croatia is competent because the spouses had their last common residence in the Republic of Croatia, the court in whose territory the spouses had their last common residence is competent.

The above article outlines jurisdiction based on residence. However, there is another law that takes this a step further. This if from “The Law on the Resolution of Conflicts of Laws with the Regulations of Other Countries in Certain Relationships”. View full law here.

Članak 35.

Za razvod braka mjerodavno je pravo države čiji su državljani oba bračna druga u vrijeme podnošenja tužbe.

Ako su bračni drugovi državljani različitih država u vrijeme podnošenja tužbe, za razvod braka mjerodavna su kumulativno prava obiju država čiji su oni državljani.

Ako se brak ne bi mogao razvesti po pravu određenom u stavku 2. ovog članaka, za razvod braka mjerodavno je pravo Republike Hrvatske ako je jedan od bračnih drugova imao u vrijeme podnošenja tužbe prebivalište u Republici Hrvatskoj.

Ako je jedan od bračnih drugova državljanin Republike Hrvatske koji nema prebivalište u Republici Hrvatskoj, a brak se ne bi mogao razvesti po pravu određenom u stavku 2. ovog članaka. za razvod braka mjerodavno je pravo Republike Hrvatske.

which translates to…

Article 35.

Divorce is governed by the law of the country of which both spouses are citizens at the time of filing the lawsuit.

If the spouses are citizens of different countries at the time of filing the lawsuit, the laws of both countries of which they are citizens are cumulatively applicable for divorce.

If the marriage could not be divorced according to the law specified in paragraph 2 of this article, the law of the Republic of Croatia is applicable for the divorce if one of the spouses had a place of residence in the Republic of Croatia at the time the lawsuit was filed.

If one of the spouses is a citizen of the Republic of Croatia who does not have a residence in the Republic of Croatia, and the marriage could not be divorced according to the law specified in paragraph 2 of this article. for divorce, the law of the Republic of Croatia is applicable.

This article of the law implies that the jurisdiction will depend on the nationality of the citizens and their applicable laws. Hence, every situation will be different.

If you wish to divorce and you aren’t sure if you can get divorced in Croatia, or you just need help with the procedure, we have an expat-vetted network of family lawyers across Croatia. To get an introduction, complete this form and we’ll put you in touch with a professional who can help.

How to terminate a marriage in Croatia

There are several ways a marriage can be terminated in Croatia, which is final after a legal decision by the municipal court.

A marriage can terminate by:

  • Divorce
  • Cancellation
  • Death of a spouse
  • Declaring a missing spouse dead

The above-mentioned ways of termination are valid for all forms of marriages in Croatia – regardless of whether they have been solemnized before the registrar or in a religious form.

[Read: How to get married in Croatia if at least one spouse is a foreigner]

In case of a divorce or cancellation of marriage, ex-spouses have the right to keep the surnames they had at the moment of the marriage’s termination.

Property relations that are not regulated by the mutual agreement of ex-spouses are regulated by the decision of the court.

Basics about divorce in Croatia

The divorce is called razvod braka in Croatian.

A divorce may be initiated by:

  • Proposal of both spouses for consensual divorce
  • Lawsuit filed by one spouse

The procedure for both types of divorce is initiated before the Croatian court.

People deprived of business capacity due to their personal condition also have the right to initiate a divorce. The court decides whether to allow them to take further steps in the process of divorce or not.

Suppose the divorce is initiated by a lawsuit filed by one spouse and the other spouse does not contest the merit of the claim until the conclusion of the main court hearing. In this case, it is considered that the spouses initiated a proposal for consensual divorce.

A husband does not have the right to sue for divorce during a woman’s pregnancy or before their child turns one year of age.

The court may approve a divorce if:

  • Both spouses propose the divorce based on the agreement
  • Marital relations are severely and permanently disrupted
  • A year has passed since the marriage union terminated (for example, spouses do not live together for more than a year)

Consensual divorce

The proposal of both spouses for a consensual divorce is called sporazumni razvod braka. In this type of divorce, spouses usually agree on the legal consequences of divorce. Their agreement on the divorce makes the whole divorce procedure more accessible and faster.

Spouses may agree on:

  • Residence of the children, the family house or apartment that will represent the family home, the way of achieving parental care and achieving personal relationships with children
  • Child support
  • Arrangement of property relations of spouses
  • Spousal support (alimony)

Spouses who agree on the spousal support may propose the approval of their agreement in an out-of-court procedure called izvanparnični postupak.

Basics about the cancellation of marriage

The cancellation of a marriage is called poništaj braka in Croatian. The cancellation of a marriage is initiated by a lawsuit at the Croatian court.

The lawsuit may be initiated by:

  • Spouse
  • Centre for Social Welfare
  • Person who has a legal interest
  • Parent of a minor older than 16 who got married without court approval
  • Adult within one year after becoming an adult person married as a minor without court approval

How to initiate a consensual divorce

If you and your spouse decided to separate by an agreement, you must initiate a procedure for a consensual divorce. Since there is no lawsuit and children, the process should not be too complicated or take too long.

To initiate the divorce procedure, you must submit the request for consensual divorce at općinski sud (municipal court) according to the last residence where you lived with your spouse.

[Read: How non-EU spouses of Croatians can apply for residence]

A list of all municipal courts in Croatia is available here under the section Municipal Courts.

The request for consensual divorce is called zahtjev za sporazumni razvod braka. Both spouses deliver the same document together (since there is only one document).

The request should contain the following data:

  • Court mark
  • Spouses’ names and surnames
  • Spouses’ addresses of residence (prebivalište or boravište)
  • Spouses’ OIB
  • Spouses’ legal representatives and attorneys
  • Content of the statement
  • Signatures

In addition to the request, spouses must provide the wedding certificate called vjenčani list. It can be obtained at the registrar’s office. You can view what it looks like here.

Within the request, spouses may define their property relations and spousal support. If they can agree on the issues related to the divorce, including property relations or care about their children, they do not need to hire lawyer(s). In this case, the divorce costs will be significantly lower, and they will only have to pay the court fee of approximately 200 kuna.

Upon submitting the request, the court will invite both spouses to the hearing within 1-2 months. If both spouses state they agree on the divorce, the court will conclude the divorce process. Ex-spouses will get the court decision on the divorce.

If spouses cannot agree on the essential issues related to the divorce, they must hire a lawyer. In this case, the divorce process may last a bit longer. The lawyer will collect the required documentation instead of the spouses, and they will likely only have to sign the papers. The lawyer fee depends on the lawyer’s services, but it may rise to several thousand kuna.

How to initiate a lawsuit divorce

If one of the spouses wants to terminate the marriage by a lawsuit, they must start the process at the municipal court according to the place of residence of the other spouse. In addition to this court, the court that operates at the last joint spouses’ residence may also be in charge.

A list of all municipal courts in Croatia is available here under the section Municipal Courts.

The lawsuit should contain the following data:

  • Facts on which the claimant bases the claim
  • Evidence that proves the facts
  • Court mark
  • Spouses’ names and surnames
  • Spouses’ addresses of residence (prebivalište or boravište)
  • Spouses’ OIB
  • Spouses’ legal representatives and attorneys
  • Content of the statement
  • Signatures

The wedding certificate called vjenčani list must also be provided together with the lawsuit. It can be obtained at the registrar’s office. You can view what it looks like here. The cost of the lawsuit is 200 kuna.

After the submission, the court will deliver the lawsuit to the other spouse. They have 30 days to respond. After this, both spouses are invited to the court hearing. If the suited spouse declares they agree on the divorce, the divorce will be considered consensual moving forward.

If the suited spouse does not respond to the invitation of the court, the court will deliver the invitation to the proper addresses 2 more times and put it on the court billboard. After 8 years of posting, the delivery is considered completed. The spouse who initiated the lawsuit must visit the court to finalize the divorce process.

If the suited spouse disagrees with the divorce, the court will take their hearing. However, after the legal process, they will grant the divorce.

The price of attorney’s services will vary, but expect it to be a couple of thousand kuna.

How to get spousal support (alimony)

Spouses who do not have enough money to support themselves and cannot work have the right to alimony – support from their spouses who have enough means and possibilities to pay for it.

The request for spousal support can be submitted until the conclusion of the main hearing in a lawsuit for divorce or cancellation of the marriage. The court is obliged to notify spouses about the date.

However, there is an exception when the request may be submitted even after the lawsuit. An ex-spouse may ask for support within 6 months from the termination of the marriage if the requirements for the support existed at the time of the conclusion of the main hearing lawsuit of the divorce and lasted until the conclusion of the main hearing of the support lawsuit.

The spousal support may last up to a year, depending on the length of the marriage and the ability of the caretaker to secure financial support for themselves. The court may extend the spousal support.

Another possibility for spouses is to conclude a written agreement on spousal support. They can define the amount of financial support, ways of fulfilling obligations, the duration, and termination rules. This agreement may be approved in an out-of-court procedure by the court.

The right for spousal support stops by the death of one ex-spouse or on the day when the caretaker enters a new marriage, common law union, or same-sex partnership.

[Read: How to obtain a life partnership for same-sex couples in Croatia]

Receiving alimony from an ex-spouse is rare in Croatia.

How to declare a missing spouse dead

Regardless of the form of the marriage, all marriages stop if:

  • One of the spouses dies
  • The missing spouse is declared dead.

[Read: How to die in Croatia: Part 1 (What happens right after death)]

If a spouse is missing, the court may declare them dead upon the request of:

  • The remaining spouse
  • Children who want to divide the property
  • Business partner who wants to separate their part of the property

The court will declare a missing spouse dead if:

  • There has been no news about the missing spouse 5 years after submitting the request to the court, and they are older than 60
  • There has been no news about the missing spouse during the last 5 years, and there is a possibility they are not alive
  • The missing spouse disappeared in a shipwreck, plane crash, traffic accident, fire, flood, avalanche, earthquake, or other immediate mortal danger, and there has been no news about them 6 months from the day the danger ceases
  • The missing spouse disappeared during and related to war, and there has been no news about them a year from the day of the cessation of hostilities

The request for declaring a missing spouse dead must contain the facts and evidence on which it is based. It must be submitted to the municipal court according to the residence of the missing spouse.

A list of all municipal courts in Croatia is available here under the section Municipal Courts.

After the submission, the court will check whether the missing spouse has an appointed guardian. If they do not have a guardian, the court will delegate the competent body to assign them a guardian. The court will then publish a note inviting the missing spouse or another person who has any news about the missing spouse to contact them.

After the note expires and the proposer of the request and the guardian give their hearings, the court will declare the missing spouse dead. The court will deliver the legal decision to the registrar, who will enter the data into the Book of dead called Matica umrlih.

The marriage ceases to exist on the day defined as the day of death of the missing spouse by the court’s legal decision.

Get help with your divorce in Croatia

If you are getting divorced in Croatia, let us introduce you to one of our vetted Croatian family lawyers who can help. We have an extensive network network around Croatia – all of whom speak excellent English and are experienced with helping foreigners.

Divorce is challenging, no matter the situation, and it can be made harder when you do not have an advocate on your side. If you’d like some help, please tell us a bit about you and your situation in the form below so we can match you with the right professional. The first step is to have a free chat so you can meet them and they can learn more about your case. Then they will let you know how they can assist.

In addition to knowledge about the law, everyone we work with is kind and compassionate, which there can be far too little of these days. You’ll be in great hands, no matter what.


View our other partnership posts


Sources:

Law on the Resolution of Conflicts of Laws with the Regulations of Other Countries in Certain Relationships
Law on Family
Decision on the Proclamation of Family Law
“How long does divorce last” by Tomislav Strniščak
Divorce – impact and consequences of divorce for partners and children by Kreni Zdravo
Filing a lawsuit for divorce by Pravni fakultet Osijek
Declaring the missing spouse dead by e-Građani

Please note: All information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. For legal advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant. We can recommend one if you contact us.

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