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Divorce and Children

Among the most difficult issues when divorcing is the impact on the children and the questions that follow: Where and with whom will the children live, how will they maintain contact with the other parent, who will pay the child support and how much will it be?

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How often are children impacted by a divorce?

The Czech Statistical Office bases the following statement on the data available on population movement:

“The number of divorces was almost 200 lower in 2019 in year-on-year comparison, when the Czech courts issued 24,100 decisions about divorces in total. Half of the marriages were divorced on the basis of a joint petition. The majority of divorces (59%) ended marriages that involved minor children – 22,600 minor children in total. In terms of duration of the marriage at divorce, most of the divorces involved marriages lasting from two to four years.”

Czech courts strictly adhere to the view that children should face as few consequences as possible; parents are recommended to abide by this as well, and attempt to come to an agreement resulting in an uncontested divorce.

Tip: Find out details about the legal process of divorcing a marriage with minor children.

Child care process comes before the divorce itself

If you’re finding yourself in the difficult situation of divorcing a marriage with minor children, you ought to know that before you can proceed to the divorce hearing itself, the court must decide on the care of the minor children. One of the couple must therefore petition the court to order it. Ideally, both parents reach an agreement beforehand and the court merely acknowledges it. Otherwise, the judge issues a judgement themselves. Bear in mind that any and all decisions of the court are aimed at the child’s best interest – if your agreement strays from this basic idea, the court may ignore it and decide otherwise.

Tip: Anything you need to know about a minor children care agreement can be found in this article on the documents necessary for a divorce.

“An agreement will make life much easier for both you and your children. It will spare you years and years of legal disputes, stress, expert opinion fees, etc. If you’re absolutely unable to reach it, do avoid the templates on minor children care or minor children maintenance available on the Internet. The slightest misstep or the failure to provide any and all required information and documents can lead to a significant delay of the process.”

Lucie Petránková, divorce solicitor

Child custody – sole, shared or joint?

Generally, the court may decide on one of the following three regimes of minor children care:

  1. After the divorce, the child may be entrusted into the sole custody of one of the parents or even a third person (for instance, if the parents are deceased or are unable to care for their children). Consequently, the other parent is obligated to pay child support.
  2. With shared custody, the child alternates living with either parent, usually on the basis of a week or fortnight. As a rule of thumb, both parents are ordered to pay child maintenance, which will be based mainly on their income – unless this differs substantially, it will be the same, so neither parent will pay anything in reality. In other words, each parent will provide for the child when the child is with them.
  3. Joint custody remains the least known of the three regimes. The Czech civil code requires both parents to consent to it. Furthermore, it is supposed that the parents are able to communicate well and therefore can do without a detailed schedule binding them to care for their offspring at particular times or to cover their particular needs. Joint custody is an option when both parents continue to live together in the same household or at least live near one another.

Lean upon a solicitor for support

In our practice, we often see parents overwhelmed with emotions forget about the most crucial issues. A divorce barrister will negotiate with your ex-spouse on your behalf as well as draft all the necessary documents or hand in the divorce complaint. They will strive to achieve the divorce as soon as possible, with the maximum benefit for you and your children.

Must the contact with the other parent be court-ordered?

No, it needn’t be. It depends on whether the parents are able to come to an agreement. If the child is entrusted into the sole custody of one of them, the other is entitled to visit or call them regularly and to receive information about them. The contact is court-ordered only when the parents aren’t able to negotiate this themselves and ask the court to do so in their stead.

If necessary, the court will issue a detailed judgment stating, for example, that the mother is to get little Anna and her belongings ready on every odd Friday at 3pm at the place of their residence, where the father is to pick her up and return her therein on Sunday at 6pm. The contact during holidays is specified separately.

What factors the court considers

The child’s interests always come first and foremost. For this reason, a social worker is present at the hearing. Their role is to determine the conditions in the family and to defend the child’s interests. The judge emphasizes the child’s personality, especially their talents and abilities in relation with the developmental possibilities and the parents’ conditions. Moreover, they’re interested in the child’s emotional orientation and background, the developmental abilities of either parent, and the present and future stability of the formative environment. Naturally, the court considers the child’s emotional bond to their siblings, grandparents and other relatives and should decide in a way that doesn’t disturb these.

The court also examines who has been taking care of the child more up to the present moment and with which parent the prospects of a successful and healthy development lie. It’s also of great importance whether the parents are able to communicate well regarding their children and whether they’re able to reach an agreement. The parent who rejects handing over their offspring or otherwise causes problems may be punished by not being entrusted with custody even if they demand it.

What about child support?

Czech law doesn’t define child support or child maintenance. However, the principle is widely accepted and stands for any regular payments a parent makes to their child that they don’t take care of themselves – for instance, the children entrusted to the custody of the other parent.

The law requires each and every parent to provide for their children, i.e., to provide housing, sustenance, clothes, medicaments, school fees – in short, to satisfy all their basic needs. Based on the financial situation of the parent, child maintenance may also include clubs, trips, cultural events, sports, holidays or even savings.

As mentioned, child maintenance depends on the custodial regime. If one parent has the child in sole custody, the other will pay (to the first parent’s bank account) the child support. To get an approximation of how much child support is paid, one may refer to the guideline tables of the Ministry of Justice. The charts divide children into categories according to their age and determine the child support as a proportional range of the relevant parent’s income. For instance, for children aged 6-9, the charts suggest child support between 13-17% of the parent’s net income.

However, the tables serve as mere guidelines, and the court needn’t decide according to them. Quite to the contrary, it must consider the particular situation, assess the child’s needs and the parents’ possibilities, as well as how much time each parent spends with the child. The child shares a parent’s living standard, for which reason the child support may vary.

Tip: Check out our child support FAQ, where child maintenance is discussed in detail.

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Author of the article

Mgr. Lucie Petránková

Lucie understands the legal profession like few others, and she defends the interests of her clients both inside and outside the courtroom. Lucie has won hundreds of disputes, and her role on our team is to ensure the smooth and effiecient transfer of real properties. She is also experienced in both civil law and family law.

Education
  • Postgraduate studies Charles University in Prague, Faculty of Law, field: medical law,
  • Universita Pantheon d ´Assas Paris II,
  • Law, Charles University in Prague, Faculty of Law

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