Ahrens & Schwarz Kyiv

Divorce in Ukraine

Legal aspects of marriage dissolution in Ukraine

First of all, it must be clarified where the divorce can take place. This is usually possible regardless of where the marriage took place.

We represent you with the help of a power of attorney in court, registry offices and other authorities in Ukraine. At the end of the proceedings, you will receive an apostilled divorce certificate as well as a divorce decree with translation by sworn interpreters, so that the divorce decree can be submitted immediately for recognition.

Divorces by Ukrainian courts are also recognized abroad upon request. Of course, we also carry out the recognition of the legally binding Ukrainian divorce decree abroad for you from a single source. If you are married to a Ukrainian spouse, the divorce can take place in Ukraine regardless of where the marriage took place.

So even a marriage concluded abroad can be divorced in Ukraine without any problems. Even if the marriage took place abroad and the other party does not agree to the divorce in Ukraine. The consent of the other party to the divorce is irrelevant. Divorce is also possible without this consent. In practice, most divorces are contested. In other words, without the consent of the opposing party.

In the vast majority of cases of marriages with Ukrainian citizens, divorce is also possible in Ukraine and is later recognized abroad without any problems.

There is no need for a year of separation, so divorce is usually possible much more quickly. It is also usually much cheaper than abroad.

As a rule, it is also advantageous for foreign nationals to have the divorce carried out in Ukraine. Nevertheless, there are a few things to bear in mind with regard to the consequences of divorce, court jurisdiction and procedure to ensure that the divorce proceedings are successful for you.

We are also happy to advise you in person or by telephone. Initial consultations and assessments are very quick and free of charge. We can then take over the mandate immediately.


The following is a summary of the most important aspects of divorces between foreigners and Ukrainians:

Legal requirements for divorce in Ukraine

The following requirements must be met for a divorce:

The separation must be finalized. There is no longer joint management and there is no longer a joint household. The marital partnership must no longer exist. However, separation is also possible in the shared home.

The marriage has broken down and has finally failed. In this case, it is sufficient as proof that one of the parties, i.e. usually the plaintiff who files the divorce petition, states this. No further proof is required. The other party does not have to agree or confirm the stated grounds for divorce.

A year of separation is not required for divorce and does not have to be observed. However, courts can order short reconciliation periods of up to six months. However, if a reconciliation period is imposed, this is usually only one month. In practice, however, reconciliation periods are rarely imposed and usually only if there are joint children. In addition, this must be expressly requested by one party.

The continuation of the marriage is no longer in the interests of at least one of the parties.

The divorce must not conflict with any legal provisions. This means that the divorce must not violate the rights or interests of third parties. According to Ukrainian law, this is the case if the wife is pregnant or a child born of the marriage has not yet reached the age of one. In these cases, the wife’s consent to the divorce is required. Otherwise, no divorce can take place during this period until the child is one year old.

The legal basis for divorces in Ukraine are Art. 10, 174, 212, 214 of the Code of Civil Procedure of Ukraine and Art. 110-112 ff of the Ukrainian Family Code. The requirements for divorce are very similar to those in for example Germany, with the exception of the lack of a year of separation as described above.


Documents required for filing the divorce action:

The following documents are required as a minimum for filing a divorce petition:

  • Plaintiff’s identity card;
  • Passport of the plaintiff;
  • notarized power of attorney;
  • in the case of foreign notarized power of attorney – additional apostille;
  • Marriage certificate, in case of foreign marriage certificate – additional apostille;
  • Copy of the defendant’s internal Ukrainian passport (identity card);
  • if there are joint children: birth certificate of the children. In case of foreign documents – with apostille.

We will be happy to assist you in obtaining all documents. We will send you a power of attorney.

Court jurisdiction

Regional courts of the lowest instance are responsible for divorces.

As in Germany, actions for divorce are filed in writing with the competent court at the defendant’s place of registration and then heard there. These are usually district courts or municipal courts, similar to local courts in Germany.

If the place of residence or registration of the spouse is not known, the court at the defendant’s last place of registration has jurisdiction. If there is no place of registration or residence in Ukraine, or if it is abroad, the lawsuit can also be filed at the place of registration or residence of the plaintiff. If this is also not available, the Supreme Court of Ukraine may determine a place of jurisdiction.

The Supreme Court of Ukraine can also pronounce the divorce itself in such a case, which speeds up the proceedings considerably. We have been able to do this more often recently. It may then take less time than a trial in an ordinary district or city court.

Compulsory attorney and legal representation

There is no obligation to have a lawyer in divorce cases. A lawyer is therefore not mandatory in divorce matters, as is the case in Germany. However, most foreigners are hardly in a position to conduct divorce proceedings without the help of a lawyer.

In civil proceedings, such as divorce proceedings, representation is possible and there is no obligation to be present in person. However, representation in court is only possible by licensed lawyers. A notarized power of attorney is required for legal representation. If the signature on a power of attorney is notarized by a notary abroad, e.g. in Germany, it must be apostilled at the regional court responsible for the notary in Germany. The translation is then carried out by translators licensed in Ukraine with notarization.


Procedure for judicial divorces in Ukraine

First of all, the divorce petition must be submitted in writing to the competent court. This must set out the grounds for the divorce. An original marriage certificate must be attached as proof of the marriage. If it is a foreign marriage certificate, it must be apostilled and accompanied by a notarized translation prepared by a translator licensed in Ukraine. Originals must be submitted. The court then assigns a file number, appoints a judge and confirms receipt.

According to the current Ukrainian Code of Civil Procedure, a hearing must be scheduled within four weeks. Due to court congestion in many regions of Ukraine, this is no longer implemented everywhere in practice. Nevertheless, appointments are usually made more quickly than abroad.

The parties are duly summoned via the registration address and notified of the place and time of the court hearing. If this is not possible for any reason, e.g. because the place of residence is unknown, public service can also be made by publishing notices in newspapers, gazettes, etc. The other party has the right not to be notified twice.

The other party has the right not to appear twice. A judgment in absentia can be issued at the third scheduled hearing. In addition, courts naturally have the option of adjourning or interrupting court hearings.

It is also conceivable to impose a reconciliation period. This can be ordered for up to six months, but this is rather rare. Occasionally 1-2 months are ordered. But even this is only possible at the special request of the parties.

An amicable divorce simplifies the procedure. Once the petition has been filed and the file number has been issued, the other party can submit a written or, better still, notarized declaration confirming the grounds for divorce and stating that they have no objections to the divorce. If necessary, agreement should also be given to hold the hearing in absentia. The divorce can then take place immediately at the first hearing.

Subsequent divorce matters, such as division of assets, pension equalization, maintenance, custody, rights of access to children, etc. may have to be applied for separately and will then each receive their own file number. These are then separate proceedings and are not part of the main divorce case. The divorce can therefore also be pronounced without further ado in the case of outstanding maintenance issues, property disputes, etc.

In divorce proceedings, a decision is also made on the name after the marriage.

In Ukraine, divorce decrees become legally binding upon expiry of the objection period. A divorce decree is issued at the end of the divorce proceedings. This judgment becomes final after ten working days if it was pronounced in the presence of the defendant. If the case was heard in the absence of the other party, after 20 working days if no objection was filed.

The parties receive a divorce decree as proof of divorce. This is issued in writing and sent by post. These are always official copies. The original remains in the court archives. Only official copies are issued to the parties to the proceedings. These must be apostilled for use in foreign legal transactions after they come into force. A translation must then be carried out by sworn interpreters at regional courts in your country. It can then be submitted for recognition in your country. Of course, we also take care of this and it is included in the all-inclusive offer.


Consequences of divorce, division of assets, pension equalization, maintenance, child access, custody

We are also happy to take on matters that are often associated with divorces, the so-called consequential divorce matters.

These are:

  • spousal maintenance
  • post-marital maintenance
  • child maintenance
  • child custody
  • custody matters
  • division of property
  • pension equalization

Of course, we are also your local experts in this area.

In Ukraine the statutory matrimonial property regime of community of accrued gains applies. The matrimonial property regime can be changed by concluding a marriage contract in Ukraine. For example, you can agree on separation of property and exclusion of the community of accrued gains. These regulations can be excluded or restricted by concluding a corresponding marriage contract.

However, the community of accrued gains can also arise even if the couple has been living in a marriage-like relationship for more than five years.

An action for division of assets can be filed with the court up to three years after the divorce.

Pension equalization is unknown in Ukraine.

Child maintenance in Ukraine is generally 1/3 of the debtor’s total income for one child. In the case of other children, however, this amounts to a maximum of 50% of the debtor’s total income. But at least 30% of the current minimum subsistence level, regardless of actual income. This is the minimum maintenance, so to speak.

Parenting mothers are entitled to 1/6 of the husband’s total income as child maintenance or childcare maintenance until their child reaches the age of three. This can be extended in exceptional cases.

Everything else is decided by the courts in individual cases on application.

Appeals and lodging appeals

Appeals, objections or legal remedies can be lodged against divorce decrees issued by municipal and district courts, provided that the time limit is observed.

In the case of divorce judgments, the court of appeal is the competent regional court of appeal in whose local jurisdiction the judgment was issued.

Appeals may be lodged within ten working days of service of the judgment if the defendant was present at the hearing; in the case of judgments in absentia, an appeal period of 20 working days after service of the divorce judgment applies.

Courts of appeal can confirm or reject judgments or make different decisions. The next higher court of appeal for courts of appeal is the Supreme Court of Ukraine. New decisions can be made by the Supreme Court of Ukraine. Judgments can be confirmed or referred back to the lower court.


Dissolution of marriage and divorce by registry offices

In Ukraine, marriages can also be dissolved by registry offices under certain clearly defined circumstances. This is a possibility that occurs in the post-Soviet area.

The prerequisite is that both spouses agree to the civil divorce and have no children together. Representation with power of attorney is also possible.

This means that, as with a judicial divorce, no personal presence is required.

The marriage is divorced within one month and a divorce certificate is issued. This is the only divorce document.

However, the following requirements must be met:

  • There must be no outstanding disputes, i.e. the dissolution of marriage must be amicable. If the spouse is against it or does not cooperate, a civil divorce or dissolution of marriage is not possible.
  • There must be no joint children from the marriage.
  • The marriage must have taken place in Ukraine.
  • If one of these requirements is not met, the civil divorce procedure is not possible in Ukraine. The duration of the proceedings is approximately one month. The divorce becomes legally binding in Ukraine upon delivery of the divorce certificate.

You will receive a divorce certificate from the registry office as a divorce document and proof of the divorce.

Here too, we can represent you with power of attorney and it is not necessary to travel to the divorce.

However, the disadvantage of a civil divorce is that recognition abroad usually takes considerably longer than a divorce in court and in practice, numerous documents are often requested by the Higher Regional Court. This is because the divorce certificate itself does not contain the information required for recognition abroad. For example, the Ukrainian marriage certificate does not state who applied for the divorce, there are no grounds for divorce and it is also not noted who was present at the divorce.

In practice, the other spouses also have considerable opportunities to delay the recognition of the divorce at a later date.

We will be happy to explain to you in a personal or telephone consultation whether a civil or judicial divorce is an option for you and which is more favorable for you.

Recognition of Ukrainian divorce decrees abroad

Ukrainian divorce decrees must always and without exception be recognized for example in Germany. Otherwise, marriages divorced in Ukraine are considered “limping” marriages until they are recognized by the judicial authorities. If the marriages are also to be considered divorced in Germany, the foreign divorce decree must be recognized in Germany. This is regulated by §§ 107 ff FamFG.

The respective judicial administration of the federal state in which a spouse resides is responsible for this. As a rule, these are the locally competent higher regional courts. If there is no residence in Germany, the Senate Department for Justice in Berlin is the competent authority.

Recognition is granted on application. All parties and persons who can assert a legal interest are entitled to apply.

Until the recognition decision is made, however, the marital status is considered to be “married”. The decision is binding for all authorities in Germany. Upon recognition, the foreign decision is retroactively valid in Germany. However, this only applies to the divorce on the merits.

Subsequent matters (maintenance/asset distribution/equalization of pensions etc.) are not affected by this. These may have to be settled separately in civil proceedings in Germany if they are to be valid there, which is often advantageous.

In terms of costs, income-related fees of currently 10 to 305 euros are incurred for recognition.

If the Ukrainian procedural regulations for divorces have been formally complied with, the divorce is usually recognized without any problems. In terms of content, these largely correspond to the German legal provisions in divorce matters.

However, experience has shown that this is sometimes not the case in Ukraine.

Sometimes, for example, the other party is not properly summoned or informed about the hearing, etc. Often there is no mention of this in the judgment, even though this has actually happened. In such cases, it is the legal counsel’s task to point out such shortcomings, if necessary during the hearing, in order to ensure that the judgment is subsequently recognized in Germany quickly and without any problems.

Otherwise, recognition can take a long time and Ukrainian documents may be requested from ex-wives and even their former spouses in the case of previous marriages, the procurement of which can prove to be problematic and time-consuming, or even impossible.

In legal practice, it can be said that Ukrainian divorce decrees are usually recognized in Germany without any problems if care has been taken to avoid errors.

We have not experienced non-recognition in the last 10 years. This is therefore more of a theoretical nature and no reason not to have a divorce carried out in Ukraine.

Nevertheless, recognition must be properly applied for. This should be done correctly and completely, otherwise there may be delays of many months.

This is part of our divorce service, as divorce in Ukraine is not finalized for foreigners and causes considerable difficulties. We provide this as part of the divorce mandate. This is also included in our fee.


Costs of divorce in Ukraine

Currently, when filing a divorce petition, approximately 1000 UAH (currently equivalent to around 30 euros) in court fees are due, which corresponds to 40% of the Ukrainian minimum subsistence level. This sum is regularly raised slightly, which means that the court fees always increase slightly over time. There is no binding scale of lawyers’ fees, or other fixed fee scale, or minimum fee, formerly BRAGO, or RVG.

Lawyers’ fees and charges are freely negotiated and can vary greatly in amount. Individual items are usually invoiced, which makes cost transparency almost impossible and very difficult for foreigners, but flat fees are also common.

However, it is also important to ensure that all necessary services are included, e.g. obtaining divorce decrees, apostilizations and translations. This is also difficult for foreigners to assess and comparisons are therefore difficult due to the lack of transparency.

We therefore offer all-inclusive packages including the recognition of judgments abroad.

The client no longer has to worry about anything. The lump-sum settlement rates thus enable complete cost transparency and there is practically no hidden additional cost risk.

This service is unique in Ukraine and precisely tailored to binational divorces.

Special features of divorce proceedings in Ukraine / What you should be aware of

The working methods and billing modalities of lawyers in Ukraine often differ greatly from foreign practices.

The following must be observed in divorce proceedings to avoid misunderstandings and disputes, which can have a fatal effect on the divorce proceedings themselves:

Lawyer and court practice, as well as bureaucratic procedures, differ considerably from foreign customs. In client relationships, this often leads to complaints, criticism and ultimately dissatisfaction.

Initially, services are often offered whose scope is not clear. In practice, it is often the case that the work of a lawyer or jurist is limited to drafting a divorce petition. But not to the acceptance of the mandate/representation and other activities, such as inspecting files, attending court hearings, contacting the parties to the proceedings, etc. The lawyer then sends a divorce petition to the court and considers his service to have been rendered. Ukrainian clients often only want this. Foreign clients are often not aware of this and this leads to differences and serious misjudgments. However, this is quite common in Ukraine.

The use of correspondence lawyers, who only attend court hearings in other cities, is still rather unusual today. Many lawyers refuse to do this because it contradicts their understanding of a client relationship. These appointments are then often handled carelessly or not attended despite payment. For this reason, we personally attend all court hearings throughout Ukraine.

You should not accept the cheapest offers. This usually results in considerable follow-up costs. Initially, you are lured into accepting a cheap mandate, but are then charged for everything else, sometimes at considerable cost. This starts with court fees, translations, attendance at court and local appointments, travel expenses, overnight stays, separately invoiced correspondence, etc. This can go so far that all of the lawyer’s actions have to be paid for separately, even if other arrangements have been made in advance.

Clients must be aware that accepting mandates from foreigners who do not understand the official language is always an increased effort, which only very few law firms can offer because they do not have the necessary qualifications. All correspondence must be conducted bilingually in a very demanding legal field. This requires special interpreters or linguistic training of the lawyer in the target language. This is very rare and, as a rule, law firms do not employ interpreters or even specialist legal interpreters. We employ several specialist interpreters and even work with interpreters sworn in at German regional courts, which means that our translations can be submitted to the German authorities immediately. So there is no delay and we really do take care of everything to do with the divorce from a single source. No other local law firm is able to do this.

To do this, the lawyer or translator must also have knowledge of German law, otherwise it is not possible to communicate in a way that is understandable for the client, as the pure meaning of the word differs from the legal meaning in the specific country. This is a well-known phenomenon in German-Ukrainian and Russian legal translation, both in academia and in practice. However, laypeople are often unaware of this.

The divorce formalities do not end with the pronouncement of the divorce decree. Obtaining and apostilling the legally binding judgment is a separate issue, which is unknown in Germany and which clients do not usually expect. Obtaining a judgment that can be recognized in Germany can take longer than the divorce proceedings themselves. As a rule, only the judgments issued are sent out after the hearing. These usually become legally binding after one month. Only then can the entry into force of the judgment be noted on it.

This copy of the judgment with the entry of legal effect must be applied for separately and can take months to process. The legal representative must also actively take care of this so that there are no significant delays. Only then can the divorce decree be apostilled.

Online divorce

We also carry out quick, uncomplicated, legally secure online divorces without your personal presence.
You can carry out the divorce conveniently from Germany, Switzerland, Austria or other countries. No more tedious journeys or time-consuming appointments. No matter where you are, you can follow the divorce process from the comfort of your own home.

You will receive a legally binding divorce decree with apostille and translation by sworn interpreters regional courts in your country

Advantages of divorce in Ukraine. Who is divorce in Ukraine suitable for?

Divorce in Ukraine is suitable for anyone who is married to a Ukrainian citizen and is seeking a divorce.

Divorce is quicker than abroad, as there is no need to wait for a year of separation.

Even if the other party is against the divorce and objects to it, experience has shown that the divorce is much quicker than outside Ukraine.

The subject of the divorce proceedings is only the divorce itself. The other party must apply for the divorce itself in separate proceedings. However, this has no influence on the divorce proceedings in the main matter. In particular, it cannot delay them.

Divorce is generally much cheaper than abroad.

Recognizing a divorce in your country is a mere formality these days.

We will be happy to discuss the details in a free initial telephone consultation.

We will assess your individual case and then act for you quickly and easily until the divorce decree is recognized.

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