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12 FAQs about Divorce in Serbia


The number of divorces in the Republic of Serbia is growing every year. Statistic reports show that in 2019, 10,899 marriages were divorced, which is a 9% increase compared to the previous year. [1] The results for 2020 are yet to be seen, however, based on the current divorce “trend”, and keeping in mind that the majority of 2020 was marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, the media have already guessed that the percentage of divorces is going to increase than ever before.

Undoubtedly, divorce takes a toll on the mental and emotional well-being of both spouses. Moreover, navigating the legal intricacies of divorce often poses numerous uncertainties for individuals. In this blog post, we address some of the most frequently asked questions from clients in practice. Perhaps you’ll discover answers to questions you’ve already been pondering but haven’t yet found clarity on.

1. How to Get Divorced in Serbia, and Are There Any Reasons Prescribed by the Law That Allow/Disallow Divorce?

The Family Law of the Republic of Serbia prescribes that divorce can be contested and uncontested. In any of the two, each partner is entitled to a divorce, if the marital relations are seriously and permanently shaken, or if objectively, partners cannot be together anymore.

Hence, the court will not deny a divorce solely because one partner has failed to outline the reasons why they cannot sustain their relationship. This is because the court does not ascertain the extent to which marital ties have been significantly and irreparably strained, nor does it investigate the underlying causes. Therefore, the court does not assign blame for the divorce, contrary to past practices.

2. Is It Possible to Complete an Uncontested Divorce Before the Notary Public?

Although this possibility was long announced in the media, the Notary Public Law of Serbia does not foresee the possibility of getting divorced this way, meaning that the courts are still authorized to divorce someone in the Republic of Serbia. Still, when it comes to an uncontested divorce, the partners can solve a part of the matter before the notary public. Particularly, the agreement on joint property division. However, if the partners already have concluded a prenuptial or nuptial agreement, which regulates the matters of property division, the divorce proceeding itself is a lot simpler and faster.

In addition to this novelty, there is an increasingly prevalent emergence of online divorces worldwide. However, you still cannot get divorced online in Serbia.

3. How To Get a Divorce if I Don’t Know Where My Partner Currently Lives?

It is not rare that partners separate, after which one of them moves to a different country, or different address, without informing the other. In that case, it is often impossible to deliver a lawsuit, as well as other motions to the individual whose address is unknown, which is actually a prerequisite for continuing the divorce proceedings.

The Civil Procedure Law has prescribed the possibility of appointing a temporary representative in such instances.

So, in case it turns out that the permanent or temporary residence or of the defendant is unknown, as well as in case the defendant, who does not have a legal representative, is abroad, and delivery could not be made, the defendant may be appointed a temporary representative for the divorce proceedings.

The answer to this question is a bit more complex. The first prerequisite for a divorce of a marriage concluded abroad is to check whether the marriage exists in the Marriage Registry of the Republic of Serbia (hereinafter: “the Registry”).

In case the marriage exists in the Registry, you move on to the next prerequisite. The court in the Republic of Serbia is authorized to divorce someone if:

  • the defendant has a residence in the Republic of Serbia, or
  • if both partners are Serbian citizens, no matter where their residence is, or
  • if the plaintiff is a Serbian citizen with residence in the Republic of Serbia, or
  • if the last residence of the partner is in the Republic of Serbia, and the plaintiff, at the time of filing the lawsuit, has a residence or temporary residence in the Republic of Serbia, or
  • if the plaintiff is a Serbian citizen, and the court of the state which would otherwise be authorized for the divorce, does not allow divorce, or
  • when the partners are foreign citizens who had the last joint residence in the Republic of Serbia, or when the plaintiff has a residence in the Republic of Serbia, but only if the defendant agrees that the competent court is the court of the Republic of Serbia
  • if the plaintiff is a Serbian citizen, and the law of the country which should be competent, does not allow divorce, the authorization can be established by the court of the Republic of Serbia.

Keep in mind that, if the defendant is a Serbian citizen with residence on the territory of the Republic of Serbia, the Serbian court holds exclusive jurisdiction for the divorce.

In case the partners had a joint child during the marriage, who was underage during the divorce proceeding, the situation is a bit different. In that case, you should talk to an attorney specializing in family law.

You can read more on the topic here.

5. Do I Have to Be Physically Present at the Divorce Hearing, or Not?

In case you aren’t able to appear at the uncontested divorce hearing, or you do not wish to expose yourself to additional distress and unpleasant emotions, you may authorize an attorney by a Special Power of Attorney to show up at the hearing instead of you.

When it comes to contested divorce, there is a possibility that the court will want to hear from the parties on the circumstances of the divorce, especially if the divorce lawsuit includes a lawsuit for sole legal custody. In that case, it will be necessary to be physically present at least at one of the hearings.

6. How Long Does the Divorce Proceeding Last?

The fastest way to get divorced is to get an uncontested divorce. In most cases, there is only one hearing after which the court makes its ruling.

Yet, in cases of contested divorce, the scenario alters somewhat. Depending on the intricacy of the circumstances, and predominantly contingent on additional claims accompanying the divorce petition, proceedings could extend for up to 2 years. For a more thorough assessment, it’s advisable to reach out to a divorce lawyer and provide a comprehensive account of your divorce situation.

7. My Partner and I Wish to Get Divorced. Do We Have to Agree on Property Division?

Partners who wish to get an uncontested divorce, besides the divorce agreement, have to agree on property division. In case it is not possible to agree on property division, the divorce can be finalized through a contested divorce.

8. During Our Marriage, My Partner and I Bought Two Apartments, and Both Apartments Are in My Partner’s Name. Do I Have the Right to Those Apartments?

Family Law makes a difference between a separate and joint property of partners. Generally, it is considered that all property acquired through work during the marriage, represents the partners’ joint property, unless, while acquiring said property, they haven’t stated otherwise. Thus, no matter whose name is on the property’s purchase agreement or the Real Estate Cadaster’s certificate, it is considered that both apartments are the joint property of partners.

So, if the money used for the purchase of property is the partner’s separate property, for example using the money acquired before marriage, it will be considered that these apartments, since they were purchased using that money, are in the ownership of only one partner. If, however, during the marriage, the value of those apartments has increased, then the other partner has a right to claim monetary rights, i.e. right to a share in that property, proportionate to their contribution.

9. My Partner and I Got Divorced Abroad a Couple of Years Ago. I Wish to Get Remarried in Serbia, but I Cannot, Since the Divorce Was Not Registered in Serbia. What Can I Do?

Often, people move abroad and forget to register their divorce in the Republic of Serbia, only to have difficulties later on when they wish to get married again. Still, this is not a huge problem, since the regulation of the Republic of Serbia recognizes the procedure of accepting foreign court rulings.

You can find out more about this proceeding here.

10. I Endure Physical Abuse in the Marriage, Which Is Why I Wish to Get Divorced. What Are My Options?

In case one of the spouses suffers any form of domestic violence, the court may impose one or more measures of protection against domestic violence against a family member who commits violence, which temporarily prohibits or restricts the maintenance of personal relationships with another family member. The Family Law prescribes a number of measures which can be taken, with the possibility to prolong these measures, as long as there is a reason to impose them. Determining these measures can be sought when filing a divorce lawsuit, same as it used to be.

Besides, a separate Law on preventing domestic abuse was adopted, which allows the possibility of imposing urgent measures if it is determined that there is a direct danger from domestic abuse. In that case, a police officer can impose one or both measures:

  • a measure of temporary restriction order from the apartment, and
  • a measure of temporary restriction of contacting the victim of abuse and approaching them.

These measures are imposed in the duration of 48 hours and can be prolonged by the court’s ruling, and last up to 30 days.

11. I Am Married, and We Have an Underage Child Together. I Wish to Get Divorced, and I Want the Child to Live with Me, but I Am Currently Unemployed and Don’t Own Any Property Where I Could Reside. Will the Court Allow It?

The very fact that a parent is not employed is not enough for a court to rule that they will entrust legal custody to another parent. The court has in mind the best interest of the child at all times, and if other facts indicate that you are the parent who is more eligible to gain the legal custody, the ruling will be the same, regardless of your work status.

Additionally, the Family Law foresees two other options which might be of use – spousal support and housing rights.

If the child and the parent with sole legal custody lack housing rights to an available apartment, they may be granted the right to reside in the apartment owned by the other parent. The sole condition is that such an arrangement does not result in obvious injustice for the parent who would need to vacate their apartment.

Also, one partner can acquire the right to spousal support from the other partner, proportionate to their possibilities, if they do not have enough means for support, and are incapable to work or unemployed. This manner of legal support is limited to 5 years after the divorce, and it can last longer only in certain cases.

12. How Much Does It Cost To Get a Divorce in Serbia?

Divorce expenses differ depending on whether the divorce is uncontested or contested.

When it comes to an uncontested divorce, the court’s fee for a divorce is 5,320.00 RSD (Serbian dinar) which is split in half. So, each partner pays 2,660.00 RSD.

When the divorce is contested, two fees are paid, in the amount of 5,320.00 RSD. In the event of an appeal, there is a possibility that this amount could be higher. Here, the issue of expense compensation is arranged differently, so that the costs can only be borne by the plaintiff or the defendant, and it is possible that the costs of the proceedings may be borne jointly.

The attorney’s representation costs are prescribed by the Attorney tariff and they also differ depending on whether the divorce is contested or uncontested. Besides that, these expenses also depend on the length of the proceeding and its complexity, so, in order to more precisely determine the overall expenses, you should consult an attorney.

Whether it’s the procedure or the very essence, divorce by itself inevitably raises a number of questions, and the answers can rarely be found all at once. Therefore, we hope that by answering these questions we have shed light on some of the ambiguities and thus enabled you to easily overcome this phase and embark on a new chapter of your life.

[1] Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia – announcement from July 10, 2020 – Marriages and divorces, 2019

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