In Turkey divorce is one of the most common types of cases encountered. Divorce proceedings are initiated by filing a petition with the court. If the steps to be followed during the lawsuit are not carefully planned, the process can put the parties in difficult situations. In Turkey divorce laws are divided into general and specific reasons, and the process of divorce proceedings is shaped according to these reasons. There are two types of divorce cases: contested divorce and uncontested divorce. Uncontested divorce is conducted with a mutually agreed divorce protocol between the spouses. Contested divorce, on the other hand, is a lawsuit filed when the spouses cannot agree on the reasons or consequences of the divorce. Therefore, the answer to how to file for divorce will depend on whether the parties can agree or not. In this article, uncontested divorce will be briefly explained first, followed by an examination of contested divorce reasons and the process of contested divorce, along with frequently asked questions.
Uncontested divorce is regulated under Article 166 of the Turkish Civil Code. This code is the main text regulating Turkish laws on marriage and Turkish divorce laws. For an uncontested divorce, the parties jointly apply to the court, or the party who does not apply to the court accepts the other spouse's claim. In this case, the marriage is considered to be irretrievably broken. For the judge to decide on an uncontested divorce, the marriage must have lasted for at least 1 year, the parties must be personally heard, the judge must be convinced that their wills are freely expressed, and the protocol submitted by the parties must be deemed appropriate. However, the judge is not obliged to accept the protocol the parties bring and can make necessary adjustments. If these adjustments are accepted by the parties, the judge can rule the divorce.
Contested divorce is a type of lawsuit where the solution is expected from the court because the parties cannot agree on the consequences of the divorce. Contested divorce can be filed based on general or specific reasons for divorce.
General Reasons for Divorce
General reasons for divorce in Turkey, regulated under Article 166 of the Turkish Civil Code. When the marriage union becomes unbearable for the spouses in the course of life the parties can apply for divorce in Turkey. Since the degree to which cohabitation cannot be expected from different individuals varies, general reasons for divorce are not limited to a specific number. However, in precedents, reasons such as severe incompatibility, disrespect, humiliation, violence, and failure to fulfill marital obligations by one of the spouses are among the general reasons for divorce in Turkey. In other words, general reasons for divorce indicate the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Regardless of the reason for filing, if a divorce lawsuit is rejected previously and the marriage cannot be re-established within 3 years, a divorce lawsuit can be filed based on general reasons. On the other hand, according to Article 166/2 of the Turkish Civil Code, if the plaintiff has a higher degree of fault in the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage compared to the defendant, the defendant can object to this lawsuit. It should be noted here that if there is no value to be protected in the marriage union, and the objection is abusive, divorce can be decided upon based on the general reason.
Specific Reasons for Divorce
Specific reasons for divorce in Turkey are limited in the law and are regulated between Articles 161 to 165 of the Turkish Civil Code. A lawsuit cannot be filed based on a specific reason for divorce other than those specified in the Turkish Civil Code. The limited reasons for divorce are adultery, attempted murder, grave insult or immoral conduct, committing a crime, leading a dishonorable life, abandonment, and mental illness.
Contested Divorce Process
A contested divorce case is initiated because the parties cannot reach an agreement while ending the marriage union. Disagreements on divorce reasons, alimony amount, financial or moral compensation, property distribution issues in divorce, and the situation of children can be the reasons for the dispute. Also, if one spouse wants a divorce but the other spouse does not accept it, the case falls under contested divorce. For example, if the woman initiates a divorce case and the man does not accept, the case will proceed as a contested divorce. In these cases, the parties are obliged to prove the existence of the reasons they advocate. Otherwise, the lawsuit will be dismissed. According to Turkish divorce laws, the judge cannot consider facts that the parties did not state and cannot engage in actions to remind them. Moreover, the court cannot conclude the case without deciding the accuracy of the evidence presented. Within the scope of the examined trial methods in Article 184, the parties' acceptance of the facts advocated is not binding for the judge. The judge will investigate the facts underlying the lawsuit in any case.
Competent Court in Divorce Cases
The competent court in divorce cases is specified by the residency of the plaintiff or the defendant or as the court of the place where they resided for the last 6 months. Therefore, the answer to the question of where to file for divorce will be one of these courts. The competent court in divorce cases is the family courts.
How to File for Divorce in Turkey
One of the most frequently asked questions is how to file for divorce in Turkey. Divorce proceedings proceed according to the written trial procedure, and the parties have the right to submit two petitions each. The divorce lawsuit is filed when the plaintiff submits the divorce petition to the family court and pays the necessary fees and expenses. After the divorce petition is submitted, the defendant is expected to respond to the lawsuit within 2 weeks. After the defendant's response petition is served to the plaintiff, the plaintiff must write a response to the response petition within two weeks. After the response to the response petition is served to the defendant, the defendant writes a second response petition. Thus, the spouses discuss the issue through petitions. It should be noted here that a fact that is not mentioned in the divorce petition and the response cannot be put forward later as a rule. For example, in a Turkish divorce case filed on the grounds of adultery, new facts that are independent of the stated reason for divorce cannot, as a rule, affect the course of the lawsuit.
After the petitions are served, the parties will be called to a preliminary hearing. The preliminary hearing can be completed in one hearing, but in compulsory cases, a new hearing date may be set again. In the preliminary hearing, the conditions of the hearing and initial objections are examined; the disputed issues are determined in detail, and procedures for collecting evidence are carried out. In this hearing, if deemed necessary, the court may encourage reconciliation. According to Turkish divorce laws, the court first determines the problems faced by the children and spouses. Then, in order to preserve the well-being of the family, the judge encourages the parties to reconcile. When reconciliation cannot be achieved, steps are taken to conclude the case. After the preliminary hearing, the process continues with the inquiry hearing.
Inquiry Hearing and Oral Proceedings
The inquiry hearing may consist of a single hearing or may be completed with multiple hearings. During the inquiry hearings, the claims put forward by the parties are examined, and the parties are heard about the facts they put forward in a proper manner. After the inquiry is completed, the court proceeds to the oral hearing. During the hearing, the court asks for the final statements of the parties and gives its judgment.
Frequently Asked Questions
In Turkey divorce process begin when one of the spouses applies to the Family Court with a divorce lawsuit petition expressing her wishes and paying the necessary fees and expenses. If the other party accepts the divorce lawsuit and the judge deems the divorce petition and the divorce protocol appropriate, the parties are divorced uncontested. The divorce petition should include the grounds for divorce and the evidence to prove these grounds. Although uncontested divorces are generally concluded in one session, the answer to how long a contested divorce lawsuit will take should be evaluated based on the specific case. These types of lawsuits can be time-consuming and financially and emotionally draining for the parties, and the mistakes made have a significant role in prolonging the process. When controlled and planned, the damages of the process can be minimized, and achieving results in line with individuals' expectations is possible. Therefore, it is recommended to follow the process with a divorce lawyer in Turkey.