Family Law, Poland

Divorce in Poland

Legal divorce was introduced into the Polish system of family law in 1946. Polish divorce law is governed by the statute of 25 February 1964: The Polish Family and Guardianship Code (Kodeks Rodzinny i Opiekuńczy), which came into force on 1 January 1965.

The grounds for divorce are that a marriage has broken down irretrievably and completely.

This irretrievable breakdown means that the marriage disintegrated to such an extent that there are no chances that the spouses will get back together at any time, while the complete breakdown means that there are no mental, physical and economic bonds between the spouses.

However, despite the irretrievable and complete breakdown of matrimonial life, a divorce will not be granted in certain cases, e.g. if it might be detrimental to the welfare of the common minor children of the spouses.

Divorce proceedings are commenced by lodging an application (petition) for divorce to the regional court (sąd okręgowy) with jurisdiction for the last place of common residence of the spouses. The petition for divorce should be lodged by one of the spouses. It is not possible for divorce proceedings to be commenced by the public prosecutor or any other person. The documents to be enclosed with the application include:

  • copies of civil status documents (marriage certificate, birth certificates of joint children)
  • document authorizing a lawyer to represent the party (if he/she has appointed his/her own lawyer)
  • evidence of earnings
  • other documents (administrative, medical decisions, etc.) that may be relevant to the case.

In divorce proceedings the services of a lawyer are not obligatory, therefore each spouse may personally undertake certain actions in connection with legal proceedings. Each spouse may also appoint an attorney or, in some cases, ask the court to appoint an attorney to act for him/her.

It is possible to appeal against any decision concerning divorce, as in the law generally. A divorce judgment can be appealed in court of second instance. Each party may appeal to the appeal court against a regional court decision.