The government is working on a new Family Law.
The latest draft of the Family Law has been recently sent to HDZ’s coalition partners. As expected, the new draft does not contain the controversial definition of the family which caused the withdrawal of the first draft, however a number of other provisions have remained in the proposal: extramarital unions will no longer be equal to married couples, extramarital partners will be able to adopt children only if “there are justified grounds on the child’s side,” and divorces of parents of minor children will be initiated at courts instead of social welfare centres, reports Jutarnji List on April 6, 2018.
The proposal is the second attempt by this government to change the Family Law. The first draft was presented to the public consultation process in late September last year but was withdrawn after less than 24 hours – primarily because of a controversial definition of the family, which was very narrow and exclusively tied to children, so couples without children would not be considered to be a family.
Social policy Minister Nada Murganić, who apologised to the public for the initial draft, said a new draft would be ready no later than the end of October last year. But, the final version has just now been sent to coalition partners. The final text of the law should be presented to the public by the end of May.
It is expected that some members of the ruling coalition, notably HNS and HSLS, will not readily agree to specific provisions, particularly those which abolish the current full equality between extramarital and marital unions. In the newest draft, extramarital unions are defined as communities between an unmarried woman and an unmarried man which last for at least three years, or less if a common child is born. However, the draft not longer includes a provision that “extramarital union generates same personal and property effects as a marriage.”
As for adoption, the draft says that extramarital couples can adopt children only if “there are justified grounds on the child’s side.” The Ministry declined to explain what these “justified grounds” were, saying that the law was still being worked on.
The divorce procedure for parents of minor children has also been completely changed. According to the current law, parents initiate divorce at the social welfare centre, which does not require the engagement of attorneys. In co-operation with the centre, parents try to draft a parental care plan, which discusses essential things related to children – where they will live, where they will spend their birthdays or Christmas holidays, how much alimony will be paid by one of the parents. Courts would get involved only at the end of the process. The practice has shown that this approach has doubled the share of parents who came to a mutual agreement without lawyers and the courts.
Another point of contention in the initial draft was Article 104, which stated that “parents have the right to independently make decisions on the education and development of their children, in accordance with their own beliefs.” Many NGOs saw the provision as an attack on curricular reform and warned that it was unacceptable that education would not be based on science.
In the latest proposal, the sentence has been excluded, but now Article 108, titled “Schooling and education of children”, contains the following sentence: “Parents have the right for their children to be provided with schooling and education in accordance with their religious and philosophical beliefs.”
Translated from Jutarnji List (reported by Kristina Turčin).