How To Divorce In Turkey as A Foreign Citizen

how to divorce in Turkey

The process of obtaining a divorce in Turkey as a foreign citizen can appear as quite complex to foreigner, as there are a number of factors that will affect the process, including the applicable law, the grounds for divorce, and whether the divorce is amicable. In this post we will try to help you clarify the process.

1. Which Is the Applicable Law For Divorce in Turkey If You Are a Foreign Citizen?

As a general rule, a marriage in Turkey is considered valid if it is registered at the Civil Registry in Turkey. This marriage can only be dissolved by the Turkish courts, even if both spouses agree to a divorce. What now needs to be clarified is, if you are a foreign citizen, under which Law the courts will decide if your marriage should be dissolved.
Article 14 of the Act on International Private and Procedure Law of Turkey answers the question:
“The grounds and provisions for divorce and judicial separation shall be governed by the common national law of the spouses. If the spouses have different nationalities, the law of the place of their common habitual residence, and in case of absence of such residence, Turkish law shall apply.”
Therefore, according to Article 14, if one spouse is English and the other is Turkish and they have registered their marriage in Turkey, Turkish Law will be the applicable law, even if they are no longer living together in Turkey, and only one of the spouses continues to live there.

2. Can A Foreigner File for Divorce in Turkey?

There are no restrictions on the nationality of the spouse that files for divorce and both parties have equal rights under Turkish Law.

3. What Grounds for Divorce Are Recognised in Turkey?

There are several reasons under which one can file for divorce in Turkey. They are stated in the Turkish Civil Code, starting with Article 160. The main reasons for divorce are the ones listed below:
Adultery; intent to kill; very bad or dishonourable behaviour; abandonment; committing crimes and leading a dishonourable life; mental illness; irretrievable breakdown of the marriage
If both spouses agree to a divorce, they can choose one of the reasons above as the grounds for their divorce. In practice, irretrievable breakdown of the marriage is the one most often used in an uncontested divorce.

4. What Is Required from Both Parties for An Uncontested Divorce in Turkey?

They will need to sign a divorce agreement that sets out the terms of the divorce, such as child custody, alimony, and the division of their property. After that, the court can approve their agreement and make a decision accordingly.

5. What Is the Process for A Contested Divorce in Turkey?

When one of the spouses files for divorce and the other spouse disagrees, the divorce is considered as contested. In this case, each party must submit its petition to the court, along with evidence, to support their case. As the next step, the court will hear evidence from both sides and will then make a decision about whether to grant the divorce.
It is important to note that the Turkish Constitution places great emphasis on the importance of protecting the family and as a consequence family courts in Turkey abide by this principle. This means, that if one spouse does not want a divorce, it is up to the other spouse to prove to the court that the  marriage has irretrievably broken down and that there is no hope for reconciliation. As a result, contested divorces can be difficult and sometimes take years to conclude.

6. Do I Need a Lawyer to File for Divorce in Turkey?

No, it is not compulsory be represented by a Turkish lawyer if you want to file for divorce in Turkey. However, the divorce process does require that someone is knowledgeable of the procedures for filing a petition, serving the petition to the other party, and supporting the case in a court hearing in order to obtain an absolute decree. Therefore, although not strictly required, it is strongly advisable and it is common practice to have your own lawyer to help you complete your divorce.

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