Divorce Lawyers in Bulgaria
Divorce Procedure in BulgariaUpdated on Monday 16th November 2020
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The divorce procedure in Bulgaria performed as per the Bulgarian Family Code. A marriage in Bulgaria can be terminated or suspended in certain cases and there are more types of divorce: either by mutual consent or by initiating a civil action.
Our divorce lawyers in Bulgaria can represent you and your interests if you are going through a divorce procedure and can help guide you throughout all of the phases, as well as explain the follow-up steps or the consequences of the marriage annulment finalization.
Legal grounds for divorce in Bulgaria
Depending on the types of divorce in Bulgaria asked by one of the spouses, there are various grounds that can be invoked in order to have the petition approved. Among these are:
- under a mutually consented divorce, a declaration of both spouses agreeing to the end of the marriage will suffice,
- the breakdown of the marriage without any future prospect to getting back together is also a reason to terminate a marriage,
- prolonged separation in which one of the spouses has left the conjugal home is also a reason for divorce,
- adultery, the use of alcohol and drug abuse, as well as violence are also accepted grounds for divorce in Bulgaria.
In order to be accepted in court, a divorce by petition under the points 2 to 4 must be proved before the judge. Testimonies and other evidence are accepted.
If you want to file for a divorce in Bulgaria and need assistance, our lawyers are at your services with legal advice.
What are the types of divorce in Bulgaria?
The divorce by mutual consent is commonly used and it means that both of the individuals agree on the reasons why the divorce is needed and the procedure moves forward without a court investigation as to the validity of the reasons. Because this is a simpler type of divorce, with no lengthy procedures (due to the mutual agreement), the costs for the process are lower than in most other cases. Spouses need to agree upon the custody of the children, visiting rights, the division of the property acquired during the marriage, the use of the family name etc. This type of divorce takes place as per Articles 50 and 51 of the Family Code and the settlement is approved by the Court only after it is verified and it has been checked that the best interests of the children are being observed. When the Court finds that the children are not protected by the agreement as presented by the spouses, then a certain period of time is issued to allow the parents to remedy the deficiencies, as expressed by the Court. If they are not improved within the given timeframe, then the divorce petition can be dismissed. A period of separation before initiating the procedure is not mandatory, although the couple may be required to try and attend a marriage counseling meeting before taking this step.
Any of the spouses may request a divorce by disruption of marriage if they believe that the marriage is irreparable. This is done under Article 49 of the Family Code. There is no time limit for the duration of a marriage if the couple chooses to separate this way. The spouse that initiates the action must bring proof that the marriage has been seriously and irretrievably broken down by the other party. A judge ensures that the interests of the children are protected and parental rights, as well as alimony and the use of the family home, is to be divided in court. The division of property as per the applicable law applies in those cases in which the former spouses have not concluded a prenuptial agreement.
A no-fault divorce by petition is also applicable in case of an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, however, this time it is submitted by means of an agreement between the two parties as per Article 49(4) of the Family Code. In this case, the spouses can present their own agreement for the division of the parental rights, the distribution of assets and other issues, as opposed in the previous case where these issues were resolved in court. A judge will still need to determine that the grounds for divorce are sound, namely that there is no solution for the continuation of the marriage.
The three manners of terminating a marriage described by our team of divorce lawyers in Bulgaria can apply based on the status of the relationship between the spouses at the date of the divorce and whether or not they both wish to take the same course of action. One of our lawyers can advise you on the suitable course of action if you are looking to terminate your marriage. We can provide complete and personalized legal counseling, especially in those cases where the petition is lodged by only one of the spouses.
The consequences of divorce in Bulgaria
There are several consequences that arise after a divorce in Bulgaria is completed. One of them refers to the fact that the spouse who has taken the surname of the other can keep it or return to his/her previous surname. Also, the other spouse cannot contest this decision.
Then, one of the most important aspects to is related to the division of assets held jointly. There are several property marital regimes that can be used in Bulgaria when it comes to the division of assets. These are:
- the statutory marital property regime,
- the separate property regime,
- the contractual regime.
Under the first regime, the assets held together by the spouses will be equally divided between them. However, it should be noted that this only applies to the assets such as real estate, bank deposits, cars and others, that were acquired during the marriage under any of the spouses’ names. There is also the term joint contribution used when it comes to the division of assets under the statutory marital property regime, through which income of investments from work and other sources of income.
Under this regime, the personal property of the spouses acquired prior to the marriage will not be considered for the division of assets.
When the division of assets is made under the separate property regime, the rights obtain by each spouses of various goods will belong to the spouse acquiring the respective product. Upon termination of the marriage, a petition can be filed by one of the spouses who will have the right to claim a portion of the value of the rights of the other spouse on the good.
The last marital regime when it comes to the division of assets as a consequence of divorce in Bulgaria is a new one and it was introduced upon the amendment of the Family Code. This is the contractual regime which relies on a prenuptial agreement.
This type of agreement is usually concluded by the spouses before the marriage takes place and most of the issues related to the division of assets in case of divorce are settled through this contract. In the event of marriage termination, the conditions established through the prenuptial agreement will be taken into account by the Bulgarian Court.
Such an agreement can contain provisions like:
- how the property acquired during the marriage will be divided,
- how to personal belongings of each spouse will be divided,
- the way in which the family home will be administered after divorce,
- how the maintenance of children will be completed.
Properties that are not covered or provided for in the nuptial agreement will not be covered by it and will automatically fall under the distribution of assets governed by one of the other regimes.
Our divorce lawyers in Bulgaria can assist with the preparation of prenuptial agreements.
Division of assets after a divorce in Bulgaria
In the case of divorce, each party is entitled to a part of the property acquired during the marriage. The conjugal property community is terminated after the divorce procedure is complete.
The main consequences of divorce are:
- the termination/modification of the personal relationship between the spouses: meaning that the Court may decide to restore the pre-marriage surname of the wife.
- the division of property: either under a separate property regime or under a contractual regime.
- the exercise of parental rights: these can be subject to change once the marriage is dissolved and the Court can rule on the manner in which the parental rights are exercised by both or by one of the parents; the best interests of the children are always prioritized.
- the alimony obligations: the Family Code stipulates that alimony can be granted to a spouse who is not at fault for the divorce; one of our divorce lawyers in Bulgaria can give you more information.
The division of property after the annulment of marriage can take place under several forms: statutory matrimonial property regime, statutory separate property regime or the contractual regime. The statutory matrimonial property regime is that in which all of the assets gathered during the marriage are jointly owned by the spouses. In these cases, the mutual contribution is presumed subject to proof to the contrary.
The separate property regime is that in which the assets acquired are held separately by the spouses, however, upon the termination of the marriage, each of the two individuals is entitled to a percentage of the other’s assets acquired during the marriage when this claim is justified by taking custody and care of the children and in several other cases. In this case, the former spouses are jointly liable for the remaining ongoing family needs, namely the children’s needs.
Under the contractual regime, the spouses choose to conclude a prenuptial agreement, a rather new option that is available according to Bulgarian law. This agreement can be concluded either before the marriage or during this time and it will include the manner in which the division of property takes place in case of divorce, for example, the rights of each individual to the assets acquired during the marriage and the other spouse’s rights to the assets acquired by the other individual before entering the marriage. This agreement cannot contain details on the division of property in the event of the death of one of the spouses, estate planning and drawing up a will is required for these purposes.
A marriage in Bulgaria can also be dissolved in case of a declared death of one of the spouses or if the marriage is invalidated.
In case of a divorce, the interests of children must be protected
This settlement will be sanctioned by the court after a complete verification has been made in regards to the protection of the interest of the children. If the interests of the children are not protected or the settlement is not complete, the court will set a term in which the respective faults need to be eliminated. If after the granted period of time the faults have not been solved, then the divorce petition will be dismissed.
In most cases, a lawyer’s involvement in the divorce process is needed. If you are in need of a divorce lawyer in Bulgaria, contact our Bulgarian law firm and our lawyers will provide the needed information about the divorce procedure in Bulgaria.
Talking to one of our divorce lawyers in Bulgaria is recommended irrespective of the chosen asset division regime, especially when the two individuals need to agree on the co-owned property and the living arrangements and more importantly when children are involved.
Our divorce lawyers in Bulgaria can help you with more information about the legal grounds for invalidating a marriage in Bulgaria.
How can foreign citizens obtain a divorce in Bulgaria?
Foreign citizens can apply for divorce in Bulgaria provided that one of the following conditions are met:
- at least one of the spouses is a habitual resident of Bulgaria,
- both spouses are Bulgarian residents,
- at least one of the spouses has lived in Bulgaria for at least 6 months prior to filing for a divorce.
It is also possible for Bulgarian citizens to obtain a divorce in an EU country.
According to the National Statistics Office in Bulgaria, the divorce rate at the level of 2019 is as follows:
- the total number of divorces was 10,859,
- out of these, 8,648 were registered in urban regions of the country,
- the remaining 2,211 were recorded in rural areas of Bulgaria,
- the highest number of divorces was registered in female persons aged 40 to 49 – 3, 739,
- in the case of men, most of them were aged 35 to 39 – 1,904.
Please contact our Bulgarian law firm for more information about divorcing in Bulgaria as well as other details about Family Law.