Can people living abroad get a divorce in Poland?

Can people living abroad get a divorce in Poland?

In cases where a marriage was contracted in Poland but the spouses currently reside outside the country, meaning outside Poland, they have the option to pursue divorce abroad. However, the legal landscape in the foreign country may not always align with the favorable terms found in Polish law.

Under the provisions of the Polish Code of Civil Procedure, there are specific circumstances where divorce cases can be referred to Polish courts:

1. If both spouses recently lived in Poland and one still resides there;
2. If the spouse seeking divorce has resided in Poland for at least a year prior to initiating the legal proceedings;
3. If the spouse seeking divorce is a Polish citizen and has lived in Poland for at least six months directly before starting the legal proces;
4. If both spouses are Polish citizens, irrespective of their current residency.

It’s worth highlighting that Polish citizens have the option to file for divorce either before a Polish court or a court in a foreign jurisdiction.

However, if both spouses reside in Poland and are Polish citizens, the exclusive jurisdiction for divorce proceedings lies with the Polish court system.

Given that divorce proceedings can be conducted before a Polish court, the next question is how to initiate the process while residing abroad.

According to the Code of Civil Procedure, a divorce petition should be submitted to the District Court (in Polish: Sąd Okręgowy). However, in cases where the divorcing spouses reside outside of Poland, it’s necessary to obtain designation of the competent court by the Supreme Court. Practically, the petition includes a request for a specific District Court to apply to the Supreme Court for designation as competent to handle the divorce case.

Regarding participation in court proceedings, both spouses are typically required to attend hearings. Failure to appear at the initial hearing may result in the suspension of proceedings. In exceptional circumstances, such as severe illness or one spouse’s overseas presence, the court may proceed with the questioning of only one spouse. Subsequent attendance at scheduled hearings may be waived if legal representation is appointed to act on behalf of the party.

Alternatively, parties may opt for a remote hearing, facilitated by technological means for distant participation with live audio and video transmission. The temporary introduction of remote session possibilities into the legal framework was in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s possible these provisions will persist beyond the pandemic’s conclusion.

Furthermore, it’s important to note that parties residing abroad are obligated to appoint a representative in Poland for the service of legal correspondence, such as a lawyer or a family member.

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