Child custody – alternating personal care in Slovakia

Alternating personal care was introduced by an amendment to the Slovak Family Act no. 217/2010 Coll. Alternating care is an adjustment of personal care for a child when the child is in the personal care of each of the parents for a certain period of time. Simply put, it is a regular, periodic change of residence of the child, a certain time with the mother, then with the father. 

According to the Family Act, “If both parents are qualified to raise a child and if both parents are interested in personal care for the child, the court may entrust the child to alternating personal care of both parents if it is in the best interests of the child and if the child’s needs are better met.” 

Parental rights and responsibilities are equal and each parent is entitled to half of their child’s free time. Both parents therefore have the right to spend half of their time with their minor child. This applies to both weekends and days of the week, ideally the time should be evenly distributed. 

The rule of parents’ evenly distributed time spent with the child generally follows from settled court practice, where one half of the child’s free time represents the extent of contacts, which represents the exercise of the right to family life. 

The law does not stipulate how long each parent’s care period should be, how regularly the parents should take turns in caring for the child, nor does the time have to be divided in proportion. The time a child spends with each of the parents can be determined differently, depending mainly on the child’s needs, age, hobbies, school responsibilities and extracurricular activities. 

In practice, however, it will always depend on the circumstances of the case and the best interests of the minor. However, if a parent has a lower time limit, there must be certain specific reasons for this limitation of contact. These special reasons need to be proven, the Slovak court will take all the evidence to establish the true state of affairs. 

In Slovakia, if at least one of the child’s parents agrees to alternate personal care, the court must examine whether alternating personal care will be in the child’s best interests.

The Family Act specifically emphasizes the equality of parents, stating that in court proceedings the court should ensure that “the child’s right to upbringing and care is respected by both parents and that the child’s right to maintain regular, equal and equal personal contact with both is respected parents.” 

At the same time, the precondition for the establishment of alternating personal care is that the child will not be repeatedly removed from the school or preschool environment and placed in another environment, so that both parents live in a place that allows the child daily attendance at the facility he or she visits. which the parents agree. It is also in the child’s best interest not to lose friends, neighbors, so that he can continue to pursue his interests, visit his favorite circles and places. Parents need to be able to agree on things related to school attendance, extracurricular activities and the best interests of the child. 

It is also possible to define the assumptions of alternating care in the opposite – negative way. The alternator will not be suitable for children with behavioral disorders, for children sensitive to changes in the environment, children who otherwise require a stable environment. Typical cases of parents who are not suitable for alternating care are parents who have a negative effect on the child’s personality or upbringing, introduce instability into the child’s upbringing, marry the correct educational activity of the other parent, create pressure on the child’s psyche, promote wrong habits in the child etc. 

Parents must be able to communicate with each other, they must be able to agree in exceptional circumstances when it will not be possible to observe the prescribed periods of care – for example, when a child becomes ill, when one of the parents has to travel on a business trip, etc. They must not do so in spite of, but cooperate in the best interests of the child.

The court will therefore decide on alternating care if: 

– both parents are qualified to raise the child,

– both parents are interested in personal care of the child,

– entrustment to alternating care is in the best interests of the child,

– the needs of the child will be better met in alternating care,

– at least one of the parents agrees to alternating care. 

Other statements of the court decision

Decisions on alternating care should also include a statement as to which parent will receive parental benefits or which parent will claim the tax bonus on the child. It is also necessary to decide where the child will be resident. 

Child support is usually not determined in cases of custody of parents. However, in justified cases, the court may also determine maintenance, taking into account the length of each parent’s alternating personal care when determining maintenance, or the court may also decide not to determine maintenance during the parents’ alternating personal care. As a rule, if the child is with each of the parents periodically for the same time, then maintenance is not determined. Parents can sometimes speculate and try to use alternating care so that a parent who has a better level of property does not have to pay maintenance. The less affluent parent, in turn, will be interested in entrusting the child to his or her sole custody, so that the other parent will have to pay child support to him or her. The court should also take into account the parents’ agreement on alternating care and, if it does not contradict the law, it should also approve it.

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