Attorney’s introduction into spousal alimony payments after divorce in the Czech Republic
Alimony: Foreigners constitute 5% of population of the Czech Republic. Czech courts are increasingly dealing also with divorces of foreigners’ marriages.
It is sometimes the case that one of the spouses moved to the Czech Republic in order to join the other one, leaving behind not only their family and contacts, but also career opportunities. If they have no meaningful job experience, little language profficiency and small savings, alimony can easily become the thing that makes or breaks their future.
Child custody, divorce, alimony and division of matrimonial property
In case that spouses fail to reach agreement, there will be separate court proceedings on (1) child custody and child maintenance, (2) divorce itself, (3) spousal and ex-spousal alimony and (4) division of matrimonial property. Each of this proceedings may have different requirements for court jurisdiction and may be governed by a different law. This article includes only general introduction into issues of (ex)spousal alimony.
- For general introduction into divorce proceedings, please read article: Basic information about divorce proceedings in the Czech Republic.
- For general introduction into injunctive relief, please read article: When marriage becomes unbearable: Restraining order and preliminary injunction for alimony prior to divorce in the Czech Republic
- For specialist legal explanation of jurisdiction and governing law on divorce, please read article: Expat divorce in the Czech Republic: Court jurisdiction and governing law of divorce proceedings.
- For specialist legal explanation of jurisdiction and law governing division of matrimonial property, please read article: Expat divorce in the Czech Republic: Jurisdiction and law governing separation of matrimonial property.
Alimony: Spousal maintenance during marriage
Spouses have the right for generally equal standard of living under Czech law. To put it simply, income of both spouses should be added up and then divided into halves. This general rule is important in case of protracted divorce proceedings in order to prevent one of the spouses from using their income as a bargaining chip against the other one that may be dependant on it.
Should such a threat arise, do not hesitate to find a reputable lawyer and file for provisional ruling. Court should make a provisional ruling within 7 days. In order to succeed, the motion needs to be supported by sufficient evidence.
Legally, a spouse has the right to be informed about the other spouse’s income, assets as well as current or prospective employment. Make sure you have all of this information before you move towards filing – or even discussing – a divorce.
After-divorce spousal alimony in the Czech Republic in general
There is no automatic right for after-divorce spousal alimony. Several conditions must be met:
- Divorced spouse is unable to provide for themselves.
- Inability to provide for themselves originated in connection with the marriage.
- Under the circumstances, it is reasonable to require the other spouse to pay alimony.
- The alimony amount must be reasonable both as regards the needs of the payee as well as the ability of the payer.
When deciding on alimony, the courts take into consideration especially the duration of the divorced marriage and how long it has been divorced (there is no formal time limit on when one can ask for alimony after divorce) as well as whether:
- the divorced spouse has not found an appropriate job without being prevented to do so by a serious obstacle
- the divorced spouse could have provided for his own maintenance by duly managing his own property,
- the divorced spouse contributed to the care of the family household during the marriage,
- the divorced spouse has committed an act having a nature of criminal offence against the former spouse or his close person, or
- there is another similarly serious reason.
Special cases: Same living standard = half of net income
In general case above the alimony amount must be “reasonable” both as regards needs of the payee and abilities of the payer. Under special circumstances a spouse may request alimony that would provide them with esentially the same living standard. That typically means asking for half of spouses’ net monthly income.
In order to be awarded same living standard alimony, these circumstances must be met:
- the payee wasn’t mostly has not predominantly caused the breakdown of the marriage or who disagreed with the divorce,
- the payee incurred serious harm as a result of the divorce,
- the payee didn’t commit an act of domestic violence against the payer.
Alimony in the amount providing same living standard may be judicially awarded for a period that is adequate to circumstances or maximum of three years. After this time period, the payee may still have right to “standard” alimony in a lower amount.
Same living standard alimony is more probable in cases of foreigner’s divorces as it is more likely that one of the spouses had to leave behind their life, family and social connections – as well as most of their future career prospects – in order to join the other one in a foreign country.
Getting out of alimony: One time lump sum payment
Sometimes it may be better for both spouses to agree on one time lump sum payment. By agreeing to this, the payee loses right to ask for monthly alimony (only for the spouse, not in case of child payments).
This gives the payer a comfort that his alimony obligations to the other spouse are cleared. That is no small benefit considering that there is no formal time limit on duty to pay alimony.
For payee a lump sum payment may ease start of a new life, or perhaps make it easier to even return to country of origin and restart their living prospects therein.
Prefererably by agreement, otherwise by court decision
It is always preferable to make a deal on spousal alimony as part of divorce agreement. In such a case the court proceeding on divorce as well as alimony may be finished relatively fast, usually within two months if no translation is needed, within few months if the spouses don’t speak Czech sufficiently.
In case that the parties fail to reach an agreement, a judge will render decision on alimony taking into account criteria mentioned above. Alimony will be payable back since the day of filing of the court motion. Should it be necessary, the court may also render a provisional ruling, under which alimony must be paid in essential amount before a final decision is rendered (provisional ruling is typically rendered within seven days of filing).
If you are considering getting a divorce in the Czech Republic, don’t hesitate to contact me.