Parental Care Following Divorce in the Republic of Croatia
Keywords:parental responsibility, parental care, representation of children, divorce, special representative of the child, the best interests of the child
The author explains family law rules concerning the exercise of parental responsibility (parental care) after divorce in Croatia. The new family legislation emphasizes the importance of encouraging parents to reach agreements and reduce manipulations of their children after divorce. Parents may divorce in simplified, non-contentious proceedings, having previously reached an agreement on their divorce and on how they will exercise parental care. If there is no agreement on the exercise of parental care, they divorce in civil contentious proceedings. In that case, a parent that does not live with the child is not entitled to exercise joint parental responsibility. Novum is that a child is considered a party in all court proceedings where the court decides on his or her rights. The child is represented by a special guardian appointed by a social welfare office that is an employee of the Center for Special Guardianship. The representation system provokes new challenges due to its implementation weakness.
The author carefully analyses legal situations where parents may represent their child jointly, one of them solely, or combined: jointly regarding the essential personal rights of the child, or one of them solely with regard to any other matters. Serious questions are raised because of significant limitations on the right to parental care of the parent who does not live with the child (as a part of the content of their human right to respect for family life). According to the author’s opinion, these restrictions are not justified, especially concerning the goal to protect the child’s best interests in post-divorce families.