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Recognition of a foreign decision on divorce and registration of marriage in Bosnia and Herzegovina – area of work of the law office

Recognition of a foreign court decision on divorce in Bosnia and Herzegovina:
After a person abroad conducts divorce proceedings and receives a divorce judgment, the decision on divorce from abroad must be recognized in Bosnia and Herzegovina in order for this fact to be entered in the registers and to regulate the family name in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to enter the fact of cessation of marriage, and in order to regulate the personal status of a person in order to obtain a travel document with a valid family name, enter a new marriage abroad (obtain a certificate of single marital status), etc. In certain foreign countries, according to their valid legislation, divorce can be conducted before notary, also in some countries such as Norway divorce can be conducted at a town hall before the governor of a town, and such decisions of foreign authorities on divorce can be recognized in Bosnia and Herzegovina, because in their legislation such a decision is equated with a court decision on divorce by legislation of a particular foreign country. The competent courts in BiH for recognizing a foreign decision on divorce in the Federation of BiH are the Cantonal Courts, in the Republic of Srpska Entity they are the District Courts, and in the Brcko District of BiH it is the Appellate Court of the Brcko District of Bosnia and Herzegovina.


Decisions of foreign courts in marital matters, in matters of parent-child relations or adoption as well as other decisions of foreign courts, that is, decisions of other foreign bodies in the state where they were made are equated with court decisions made on personal status of citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Federation of BiH / RS, and which are registered in registers, will be registered in the registers only if they are recognized by the decision of the competent court in Bosnia and Herzegovina, unless the agreement of Bosnia and Herzegovina with another state excludes it. This procedure for recognizing foreign decisions on divorce is set out in detail in the Law on Resolving Conflicts of Laws with Regulations of Other Countries in Certain Relations (“Official Gazette of the SFRY No. 43/82 and 72/82). Data entry in the registers in Bosnia and Herzegovina is done after the competent court in Bosnia and Herzegovina recognizes a foreign court decision on divorce or a decision on another status issue, and then the decision on recognition of a foreign decision becomes final in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Registration of weddings from abroad in the registers in Bosnia and Herzegovina and regulation of family name:
For subsequent registration of a marriage solemnized abroad, the following documents are required to register it in Bosnia and Herzegovina:

  • Power of attorney for representation, duly certified by the competent authority abroad.
  • International marriage certificate in the original not older than 6 months.
  • Birth certificate for spouses
  • Certificate of residence of spouses
  • Certificate of BiH citizenship
  • Certificate – confirmation that the wedding was not registered in the municipalities where the spouses had residence in BiH
  • Photocopy of the passport of spouses
  • If a spouse is a foreigner, proof of citizenship of  a foreign state

Contraction of marriage in Bosnia and Herzegovina:
When it comes to contraction of marriage, spouses can agree on the following:

  • To take the family name of one or the other spouse as the family name or to keep their respective family names
  • Each of them adds the family name of the other spouse to their family name or
  • One spouse takes the family name of the other spouse and adds his/her family name to that family name.

In administrative practice in Bosnia and Herzegovina, men almost always keep their family name, while women usually take the family name from the husband or keep their family name or add the family name of the husband to their family name.


After a divorce, a person who changed his/ her family name during the marriage (e.g. the wife took the family name from the husband) may take the family name he/she had before the marriage by a statement before the registry office. The statement on the return of the family name that the person had at the time of marriage is submitted in F BiH within 6 months from the termination of the marriage, in the registry office where the birth of the person is registered or to the registrar in charge of the person’s place of residence, providing that the last alternative obliges the registrar to submit within 3 days upon the receipt of the statement on taking the family name that same statement to the registrar who keeps the birth register in which the birth of that person is kept in order to enter / register that statement in the birth register.


If the person does not declare with the statement on the family name that will be used within six months from the termination of marriage (in F BiH, in RS, it is 12 months), any change of family name into the family name that was used before the marriage is done in the administrative procedure of change of family name.
In case of annulment of marriage, also the consent of the spouse who is not responsible for the annulment of the marriage is required to keep the family name taken during the marriage.

 

The period for return of family name after divorce in relation to recognition of a foreign decision in Bosnia and Herzegovina:
Law on Registers of the Federation of BiH, Article 25, paragraph 4 states that a spouse who changed his/her family name during contraction of marriage may take the family name he/she had before the marriage, which is done in the manner regulated by the Law on Personal Name, and it is prescribed that this period is 6 months from the date of termination of marriage, but in practice the question arises what about the period of 6 months from the termination of marriage when the marriage ended abroad, for example: if a BiH citizen divorced in Germany in 2012 and initiates in BiH the procedure for recognition of a foreign court decision on divorce and that decision becomes final on 01/01/2021­? In the opinion of our law office, the finality of the decision on recognition of a foreign court decision from Bosnia and Herzegovina is always taken, not the moment of divorce from abroad. Legally speaking, the opinion of BiH registry offices is divided in practice and some registry offices passed decisions that the 6-month deadline had expired because the divorce ended much earlier abroad, however on our appeals to the Federal Ministry of the Interior in Sarajevo, every decision of the first instance bodies was annulled and it was always ordered to start the deadline from the finality of the decision on recognition of a foreign court decision from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and not the moment when the court decision from abroad becomes final. For example, a person was born in 1974 in Sarajevo, and in 1989 that person got married in Germany, by a court decision from Germany the marriage was divorced in 2002, the court decision on divorce was recognized in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2020 and became final on 01/01/2021 by the decision of the Cantonal Court in Sarajevo. The decision from Germany by which the marriage was divorced in 2001 became final in Bosnia and Herzegovina only as of 01/01/2021, and the 6-month deadline starts from that moment because from that date the foreign decision on divorce has legal effects and produces legal consequences in Bosnia and Herzegovina. So regardless of the fact that 20 years have passed since termination of marriage in Germany, the period of 6 months has not elapsed for the return of the maiden name by a statement to the registrar, because that deadline runs from the finality of the decision on the recognition of a foreign court decision in BiH.

Frequently asked questions about the recognition of a foreign court decision on divorce and registration of marriage from abroad in Bosnia and Herzegovina:

Is it possible to register a marriage in Bosnia and Herzegovina that was divorced abroad and the divorce was not conducted in BiH?
First, it is necessary to conduct the procedure for recognition of a foreign court decision on divorce, and then register your marriage as well as the divorce in the registers in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Do I have to be physically present in BiH while the procedure for recognition of a foreign court decision on divorce is in progress?
Your presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina is not necessary because we represent you as your lawyers.


Can a foreign court decision on divorce which deliberated also on real estate be recognized in BiH?
A foreign court judgment on divorce in such a case can be recognized only in part in a way to recognize the part of the court decision by which the marriage was divorced, and to refuse to recognize that part of the court decision which deliberated on the property in BiH. Only a court in BiH can discuss about your real estate located in Bosnia and Herzegovina.


I got married twice abroad, and one marriage was divorced outside BiH, do I have to register everything in BiH?
In order to register a current marriage, you must first register your first marriage, and the divorce of your first marriage, in order to enter the current situation in the registers and regulate the family name.


I got divorced abroad and would like to return my family name but I do not know how much time I have?
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the deadline for returning the family name after divorce in the Federation of BiH is 6 months from the finality of the divorce judgment. Deadline for returning the family name after divorce in the Republic of Srpska Entity is 12 months from the finality of the judgment on divorce.


A few examples of recognition of a foreign court decision on divorce in Bosnia and Herzegovina in practice of the law office Prnjavorac:


Example 1 – recognition of a foreign court decision on divorce from the Federal Republic of Germany in BiH, before Canton Court in Sarajevo:

BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
FEDERATION OF BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
CANTON SARAJEVO
CANTON COURT IN SARAJEVO
Number: 09 0 V 20 V
Sarajevo, January 5, 2021


The Canton Court in Sarajevo, judge Nadja Seferovic, deciding in a non-litigious procedure at the request of the applicant J.L., residing in EH, Germany, represented by lawyers Alma and Azur Prnjavorac from Tuzla against the opponent of the proponent B.B. residing in S.S 1, 79585 Steinen, Germany, for recognition of a foreign court decision, outside the hearing on January 5, 2021 passed the


DECISION
A foreign court judgment on divorce of the Basic Court of Lӧrrach, Family Court, dated February 13, 2020, final as of February 13, 2020, which divorced the marriage between J.L. born in 1964, citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina and B.B., born in 1952 in Sarajevo, citizen of Germany, solemnized on August 15, 2014 before the registrar of the Steinen Registry Office, Germany (Register of Marriages No. E 25/2014).
Explanation


On December 25, 2020 the petitioner filed a motion for recognition of a foreign court decision on divorce of the Basic Court of Lörrach, Family Court in Germany, from February 13, 2020, final on February 13, 2020, which divorced J.L. born in 1964, a citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina and B.B., born in 1952 in Sarajevo, a citizen of Germany and which was solemnized on August 15, 2014 before the registrar of the Registrar’s Office of Steinen (Register of marriages No. E 25/2014).


Based on the attached documents, this court determined that the foreign court decision became final on February 13, 2020 and that as such it is eligible for recognition, as it meets the requirements of Articles 86 to 96 of the Law on Resolving Conflicts of Laws with Regulations of Other Countries in Certain Relations (“Official Gazette of the SFRY”, No. 43/82 and 72/82), which was taken over as a republican law (“Official Gazette of the Republic of BiH”, No. 2/92), and is applied on the basis of the provisions of Article 458 of the Law on Civil Proceedings (“Official Gazette of the FBiH”, No. 53/03, 73/05, 19/06 and 98/15) in order to be recognized by this Court.
For these reasons, this court based on the provision of Article 101 of the Law on Conflict Resolution, laws with regulations of other countries in certain relations and the provision of Article 28, item 3) e) Law on Courts in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (“Official Gazette of the F BiH, No. 38/05), decided as in the dictum of this decision.


JUDGE
N.S


LEGAL REMEDY: An appeal against this decision is allowed to the Supreme Court of the F BiH through this court within 15 days from the day of receipt of the decision.

Other examples of recognition of foreign court decisions on divorce in Bosnia and Herzegovina, recognition of foreign court decisions on adoption in BiH, as well as other foreign court decisions in BiH you can see in the Bosnian language.

 


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