Divorce is initiated by a lawsuit of one marital spouse or a joint petition of both marital spouses for uncontested divorceMarital spouses who share underage children have to apply to a Croatian social welfare institute for compulsory counselling before they file a petition for divorce with the court.
The purpose of compulsory counselling is to familiarise the marital spouses with the option of first starting family or marital counselling, with the legal and psychosocial consequences of divorcing and with the child’s welfare when deciding to divorce, as well as to develop a parenting plan.
If the marital spouses did not manage to make a parenting plan in the course of compulsory counselling, they also have to attend the first family mediation session, except in case of allegations of domestic violence. Family mediation is carried out by the Family Centre.
A parenting plan is a written agreement in which parents agree to share custody after their cohabitation ceases. A parenting plan includes: the child’s place and address of residence; time which the child is to spend with each parent; method of exchange of information regarding giving approval and consent when making decisions important for the child; method of exchange of important information about the child; child maintenance amount; the method in which future disputable issues are to be resolved; as well as any other issues considered important for the child.
A parenting plan becomes an enforceable document once it is approved and certified by the court. Shared custody can also be regulated by a court decision based on the agreement which the parents reached in the course of the proceedings before the court.
If no agreement is reached, the court decides on custody. When the parents have not reached agreement and the court is taking such a decision, it will establish the child’s opinion, appoint a special guardian for the child, who will represent the child in court, and can request an expert opinion from a social welfare centre or a court expert witness.
The jurisdiction of the court and the Croatian social welfare institute and the Family Centre is determined based on the child’s place of residence which was the last common permanent or temporary residence of the marital spouses.