Family Law, Poland

Parental authority

Under Polish law, parental authority is exercised by both parents, regardless if they are married to each other or not. The scope of parental authority encompasses first of all the obligation and the right of the parents to take care of a child, i.e. to bring him/her up, to care about his/her education, to enable satisfy his/her basic needs etc., as well as to represent a child and administer his/her property.

Therefore, the father of the child has the same rights as the mother of the child, unless his parental authority has been limited. If both parents have joint parental authority over their child, each of them is obligated and authorized to exercise it. Both parents jointly decide in vital questions concerning the child and if they fail to come to an agreement, these issues are decided upon by a guardianship court.

If both parents hold the parental authority but they are not married, the guardianship court may, for instance on the motion of the mother of the child, grant custody to one of the parents. In such situation the other parent retains parental authority but it will be limited to certain rights and responsibilities over the child. The rights and responsibilities of a non-custodial parent may include:

  • the right to co-decide on changing the child's domicile
  • ways of spending holidays, medical treatment
  • education, extra-curricular activities
  • choice of profession, etc.

Depending on the situation, it may be necessary to determine the time and place of non-custodial parent's visits with the child.

Application for parental responsibility

When lodging an application on parental authority, the following documents should be attached:

  • child's birth certificate
  • parent's marriage certificate (if they are married to each other)
  • other documents in support of the application such as school certificates, medical certificates, relevant opinions, etc.