So, I’m married to a Bulgarian, and he/she wants to divorce me…

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If you’re a foreigner, married to a Bulgarian, and you’re experiencing troubles with your marriage, or you’re having doubts about whether your spouse is planning a divorce, then perhaps you’re also wondering if it matters, that you’re married to a Bulgarian citizen.

You should know that every Bulgarian citizen may file lawsuit for a divorce in the Bulgarian court. The legal procedure goes as following: Bulgarian citizen may file a suit for divorce against his spouse, if the latter has had lived in Bulgaria for the past year, prior the suit. Should you – as a foreigner – have not resided in Bulgaria for the past year, you may then make a demur at the jurisdiction of the Bulgarian court, and ask for the lawsuit to be transferred to a court in your usual country of residence.

You may always make a demur at the jurisdiction of the Bulgarian court, if your spouse – as a Bulgarian citizen – has not been living in Bulgaria for the past year prior the lawsuit, but regardless has filed the lawsuit for divorce in Bulgarian court, solely for his/her convenience.

How may you know, that there is a lawsuit for divorce filed against you?

Should a Bulgarian citizen file a suit for divorce against you, he/she must give your address in your usual country of residence, so you may receive all papers related to the suit, which should also be translated in a language you speak, along with instructions to give an address for correspondence in Bulgaria, from which point on, all messages and information regarding the case will be sent to that address.

If the abovementioned procedure is strictly followed, there should be no surprises, and you should be able to adequately protect your civil rights and interests.

What could go wrong?

It is entirely possible for your spouse to declare, that he/she has no knowledge of your usual address and residence outside Bulgaria. In this case the Bulgarian court will summon you trough publication in “State Gazette”. Naturally, you’ll most likely never find out about the publication. You’ll be then assigned a public defender, at the expense of your spouse, who will represent you during the trial.

No matter how thorough the public defender does his work, he may still not be able to reach you, and therefore may never know what your actual interest and demand is – would you actually want to divorce or not? If there are children, born during the marriage – the public defender will not be able to fight for the parental rights, neither he’ll be able to fight for alimony and/or child support. He will not be able to present any evidence in defense of your rights interests, simply because there will be no one able to reach you.

Thus, without even suspecting, you may end up divorced, your parental rights – taken away from you, and you’re allowed to see your kids only during the most inconvenient of times.

What can be done about this?

Such situation may, of course, be avoided. This would mean regularly checking whether there’s a lawsuit for divorce filed against you, which could be easily done in the respective Bulgarian court – all it takes is the name of the party.

If you’re having any doubts at all, if you’re already separated, and if you think that, your spouse – a Bulgarian citizen, wants a divorce, you may always check it up.

Truth to be told, lawsuits for divorce filed in Bulgarian courts, are usually a lot cheaper and a lot faster, in comparison with other national courts.

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