Family Law. Marriage. Alimony

бракFamily law is a branch of law governing family relations, i.e. personal and related property relations which arise between persons from a marriage, cognation, adrogation, placement in a foster family.

Marriage registration

Concept of marriage. Right to marry. Marriage age

Marriage is a family union of a woman and a man registered in the Civil Registration Authority. Marriage registration constitutes ground for giving a woman and man mutual rights and obligations of spouses. Religious marriage does not constitute ground for giving a woman and man mutual rights and obligations of spouses. Marriage certificate is a matrimony document.

Marriage State Registration Authorities

Civil Registration Offices are authorities that are entitled to register marriage. On the motion of the intending spouses marriage can be registered at the place of registration (residence/domicile), at the place of hospital care provision or any other place, if they are not able to come to Civil Registration Authority for a good cause.

Keep in mind, though, that the marriage can be registered in a foreign country. In order to achieve this it is necessary to come to the Ukrainian Consulate or Embassy in that state, in which the marriage will be registered. The consul or ambassador is fully authorized to certify a fact of marriage registration between Ukrainian citizens abroad. The procedure itself is not different from that is held in the territory of Ukraine.

Filing an application for marriage registration

Under the law marriage is registered after one month from the date of filling an appropriate application. If the bride is pregnant, the marriage is registered on the date of submission of application or any other date, as the intending spouses desire, during one month. A maximum time period during which an application for registration can be filed, provided for by current legislation, is two months. The minimum period is one month.

Documents required to get married (Ukrainian citizens)

  • Passport of a citizen of Ukraine;
  • Taxpayer record card registration number (TIN);
  • If one of the intending spouses was previously married, it is necessary to submit the prior marriage termination documents, it can be: Certificate of dissolution of marriage or Court Decision;
  • If one of the intending spouses is widowed, it is necessary to submit the Death Certificate of the former spouse.
  • Court order to marry not having attained marriage age, if one of the newlyweds is underage.

Documents required to get married (foreign nationals)

  • Passports;
  • Certificate of no impediment to marriage (certificate of marital status);
  • Visa which allows a foreign national to stay in the territory of the state where the marriage will be registered.

All documents issued by foreign states, should be apostilled (special stamp on the national document used for its recognition abroad) and/or should be translated into Ukrainian and be notarized.

Familiarization of prospective spouses with their rights and obligations

The authority, which received the Application for marriage, shall familiarize the intending spouses with terms and procedure of marriage registration, be certain that these persons are mutually aware of health and marital status as well as clarify their rights and obligations which they will have, being spouses and parents, warn that they are responsible for concealment of impediments to marriage. A marriage is registered in the presence of the intending spouses. A record on marriage registration with indication of the surname, name, patronymic and year of the birth of the second of the spouses and place and date of marriage registration are entered in the passports of the spouses that certify their identity. We recommend you to become familiar with the laws concerning the marriage and family in Ukraine (the Civil Code; the Family Code).

Impediments to marriage

The Ukrainian legislation prohibits registration of a marriage:

  • Between the intending spouses at least one of whom did not attain marriage age (unless there is a leave of court to register a marriage);
  • Between the intending spouses at least one of whom has been already registered as being married;
  • Between lineal descendants and ancestors, between siblings and half-siblings, adopters and adoptees
  • Between the intending spouses, at least one of whom has been declared by court to be legally incompetent on the grounds of mental disorder.

Dissolution of marriage (divorce)

The Ukrainian legislation provides for two procedures to dissolve a marriage. The choice of divorce process also depends on several circumstances i.e. having underage children, one of the spouse’s refusal to dissolve a marriage and existence of property dispute.

Dissolution of marriage (Divorce) in a Civil Registration Authority

In Ukraine there is a relatively easy order for divorce of those who mutually decided to divorce and they have no joint underage children and the wife is not pregnant.

Under such circumstances it is necessary to come to a Civil Registration Authority (registry office) at the husband’s or wife’s place of registration (residence/domicile) to execute a divorce in Ukraine. It will be required to present passports. The spouses shall file a standard joint Application for registration of marriage dissolution to the registry office.

The family legislation stipulates that a marriage cannot be dissolved earlier than a month from the date of submission of the appropriate Application for divorce. Within this month the spouses have a right to withdraw their Application for marriage dissolution. If a decision to divorce was consciously made and has not been changed this month, a husband and a wife shall attend a registry office at the appointed date and time for registration of marriage dissolution.

A divorce process results in receiving a Certificate of dissolution of marriage.

Dissolution of marriage (Divorce) in a court:

Mutual spouses’ decision to dissolve their marriage

If there are underage children in the family and the spouses mutually decided to dissolve their marriage, there is another procedure to dissolve the marriage. A divorce is executed by a court. Spouses have a right to file a joint application for dissolution of marriage to a court. It is also necessary to submit the following documents:

  • Copies of the spouses’ passports;
  • Original marriage certificate;
  • Copies of the children’s Birth certificates.

The joint spouses’ application for dissolution of marriage should be accompanied by the written Agreement as to the parent with whom their underage children will live, how the parent who will live separately will be involved in the process of securing their living conditions as well as terms of him/her exercising his/her right to personally take care of the children. Therefore the state obliges spouses to discuss and make a decision on the fate of their child/children.

Spouses are also entitled to conclude an Agreement on the amount of child/children support, which must be notarized.

A court decides to dissolve the marriage if it is established that the application for dissolution of marriage reflects the real wife’s and husband’s desire and that their personal and property rights as well as their children’s rights will not be infringed after dissolution of marriage. The court decides to dissolve the marriage one month from the date the application was submitted. A husband and a wife have a right to withdraw this application till the end of the current term.

One of the spouse’s refusal to dissolve a marriage

If a dissolution of marriage is initiated by one of the spouses who have children, he/she can file a claim. In this case, it’s necessary to justify in the claim why one of the spouses wishes to dissolve the marriage and considers that their further cohabitation is impossible.

However, the Claim for dissolution of marriage cannot be filed during the wife’s pregnancy and within one year next after the child’s birth, unless one of the spouses committed a wrongful act which would be deemed to be a criminal act and in any other cases prescribed by law.

In most cases, before a dissolution of marriage, a court will give the parties time for reconciliation. If at the end of this period the parties reconcile, the plaintiff should request the court to leave a claim without consideration.

The court will decide to dissolve a marriage if it is established that continuing and salvaging the marriage would be in conflict with the interests of one of them, interests of their children, that is essential. In any case, considering the case related to dissolution of marriage the court clarifies the factual relationship between the spouses, real grounds for the divorce suit, taking into account the fact of having an underage child, disabled child and other circumstances of the spouses’ life.

The marriage dissolved by a court, terminates on the date on which the court decision on dissolution of marriage enters into force. The court decision is a document certifying the fact that the marriage was dissolved by a court, there is no need to apply separately for a Certificate of dissolution of marriage, but such a right is provided.

Characteristics of marriage dissolution with a foreigner

Determination of jurisdiction in such a case is one of the major challenges of dissolving marriage with a foreigner or stateless person. Jurisdiction constitutes determination of a specific court or public authority which shall try a specific case (dispute).

Pursuant to the ruling of the Plenum of the Supreme court of Ukraine No 11 dated 21 December 2007, in case of dissolution of marriage between a Ukrainian citizen and a foreigner or stateless person, one of whom resides in Ukraine, jurisdiction is determined on the basis of common rules, stipulated by the Civil Procedure Code of Ukraine.

According to Art. 63 of the Law of Ukraine «On international private law» termination of marriage and legal consequences of such termination of marriage are determined by the law that is in effect that time concerning the legal consequences of a marriage.

The Family Code of Ukraine stipulates that dissolution of marriage between a Ukrainian citizen and a foreigner as well as marriage between foreigners in Ukraine are registered under the law of Ukraine.

The abovementioned facts mean that dissolution of marriage in Ukraine does not depend on spouses’ nationality and will be pronounced according to the procedure established for Ukrainian citizens.

It should be noted that if a marriage is dissolved in Ukraine foreigners are not entitled to refer to the laws of their state, for example, to those laws which prohibit divorce, limit it by specific conditions or force to divorce on racial, religious or other grounds alien to our legislation.

In addition, the Ukrainian citizen residing outside Ukraine is entitled to apply to the Ukrainian court for dissolution of marriage, if the second of the spouses resides outside Ukraine regardless of his/her nationality.

We note that a Ukrainian court is competent to hear cases relating to dissolution of both «mixed marriages» (registered between persons who are citizens of different states) and marriages between Ukrainian citizens, according to the family legislation of Ukraine and if the both of spouses reside abroad.

However in addition to the common jurisdiction of cases, it is also necessary to determine which local court is entitled to hear a case relating to dissolution of marriage with a foreigner or a stateless person.

In general a Divorce suit is filed to a local court at a duly registered place of residence or stay of the respondent.

However as provided by applicable law a divorce suit can be filed at a duly registered place of residence or stay of the plaintiff, at the property’s location and/or at the respondent’s last-known location.

Ukrainian citizens, permanently or mainly residing abroad, are not always able to apply to the Ukrainian court for dissolution of marriage. Therefore dissolution of marriage between Ukrainian citizens, which was pronounced outside Ukraine under the law of the appropriate state, is valid in Ukraine, if the both spouses were residing outside Ukraine at the time of dissolution of marriage.

Document certifying dissolution of marriage between foreigners which was pronounced outside Ukraine under the law of the appropriate state, is valid in Ukraine, provided apostilling or legalizing by the appropriate competent agencies.

Legalization of marriage registered/dissolved outside Ukraine

Marriage and dissolution of marriage which were held according to the law of a foreign state, are valid in Ukraine.

According to Regulations on civil registration in Ukraine, approved by Order of the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine No 52/5 dated 18 October 2000 as subsequently amended, Documents, issued by relevant authorities of foreign states, certifying acts of civil status, committed outside Ukraine under the laws of foreign states, are deemed to be valid in Ukraine if they are legalized, unless otherwise stipulated by international treaties of Ukraine, agreed to be bound by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.

However, most countries, including Ukraine, signed a very important international agreement – the Hague Convention of 5 October 1961 which cancels the requirement of legalization of foreign official documents. For example, Art. 1 of the Convention stipulates that its conditions govern official documents which were issued in the territory of one of contracting states and should be submitted in the territory of another contracting state. Apostillizing by the relevant authority of the state in which the document was issued, is the only formality which may be required for certifying the authenticity of the signature and the capacity of the person who has signed the document, and where appropriate, the identity of the seal or stamp, which the document bears. In addition the apostille should meet the requirements of the Annex to the Convention (


Concept of alimony, Right to alimony

According to Art. 180 of the Family Code of Ukraine, parents are duty-bound to provide for their child until he or she reaches the age of majority. However the legislation of Ukraine stipulates that parents are also duty-bound to provide for their adult disabled daughter, son if they are in need of material assistance and if parents can provide such assistance. Parents are also duty-bound to provide for their adult son, daughter until they are twenty-three years old, if they continue to study and due to this circumstance they are in need of material assistance provided that parents can provide such assistance.

The recovery of alimony does not depend on whether the parents are married, divorced or they were not married at all. Child support is recovered in favour of the parent with whom the child lives, belongs to him/her and should be used for its intended purpose – to provide for the child.