Digitization of civil registers and easier marriages: new developments in the Civil Registry Act

Marriages and registered partnerships will undergo major changes next year. The list of marriage and civil partnership venues will grow. But the amendment to the Civil Registry Act also brings changes for children and, in general, for anyone who needs to get anything done at the registry office. The main change will be digitalisation. What else does the update of the Civil Registry Act bring? This is the focus of today’s article.

registrované partnerství, zákon o matrikách
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Chapters of the article

Easier marriages and civil partnerships

Until now, same-sex couples could only marry at fourteen selected registry offices. But that is set to change next year. Gays and lesbians will no longer have to travel to get married, but will be able to get married at any town hall.

But the changes are coming for all couples planning a wedding in the near future. The requirement that at least one of the fiancés must be a permanent resident of the place of marriage will be abolished. Currently, if neither of the fiancés is a permanent resident of the municipality, the mayor of the so-called registry office must marry them. However, this will change. In addition, those planning a wedding in the next year have another advantage. They will not only have to be married by the mayor, but also by a deputy or a senator.

Even after marriage, it will be possible for a spouse to declare that one spouse’s surname will be a joint surname to which the other will add his or her existing surname. Until now, this has only been possible before the marriage.

Hint: Marriage for all is so far just a phrase that political parties argue about fulfilling. Supporters of marriage for all may be looking forward to better times, as the proposal to push it through has already passed its first reading in the Chamber of Deputies. According to its opponents, registered partnerships for same-sex couples are quite sufficient. How does this proclamation stand up in legal terms? That is the question we have addressed in our separate article.

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Changes in family law in relation to children

The changes also apply to children, although they may not be fully appreciated. For example, the age at which minors can decide for themselves what surname they want in the event of their parents’ divorce is lowered. From fifteen years of age, the limit drops to twelve. This amendment is based on the idea that a person’s personal name and surname form a distinctive means and part of his or her identification. A person who has attained a certain degree of intellectual and voluntary maturity should have control over any name changes that may occur as a result of various legal facts. Whether this will be a real advantage for children or whether it will rather put them under greater pressure from their parents is a question that only the future will answer.

It should also be possible to have pet or diminutive names newly entered in the register , which in many cases has so far only been obtained by parents through the courts.

From next year it should also be easier to establish paternity if a couple is in divorce proceedings and the woman is expecting a child with her new partner. If the couple are divorcing and file for divorce, it will also be possible to declare the paternity of the child’s father before the registry office, which has not been the case until now. Now, a declaration of consent by the mother, her husband who is not the father of the child and the biological father would be sufficient, even for unborn children. Now, the father of the child is automatically considered to be the current husband and paternity must be resolved by the court.

Tip: The mother of the child is the woman who gave birth to the child. There is no doubt about it. However, with fathers, the situation is more complicated. How is paternity determined in and out of marriage? We have sought the answer to this in our separate article.

Digitisation of civil registers

Fundamental changes await registry offices as a result of the planned digitisation. The main novelty brought by the amendment to the Act is the introduction of the central registry information system eMatrika. The registry books in paper form will remain preserved, but in addition, they will also be in the centralised information system. This will make it easier for people to access the registry office, for example, when obtaining a copy of a birth certificate, marriage certificate or death certificate. Until now, this can only be done at the local registry office. Thanks to digitisation, however, any registry office in the Czech Republic could issue a copy. The eMatrika system, which will be linked to other public administration information systems, will be used by all registry offices and designated embassies abroad. It will be possible to arrange electronically for a verbatim extract from the register book, the use of a name in a different form or the issue of a certificate for a church marriage.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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