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Support for parents in case of separation

Once you have reached a point with your child’s other parent where further cohabitation seems impossible, you need to decide:

  • whether to separate

  • how to remain a good parent for the child

 

Should you separate with your partner?

Sooner or later, in every relationship, there will be a situation where people disagree deeply. It doesn’t matter what the reason for the disagreement is. It doesn’t matter whether it is made known to the other person out loud or in silence. It doesn’t matter if this is the first time the issue has come up between a couple or if it has been going on for a long time. What is important is that hopelessness is experienced – the other person does not understand me and behaves badly. I can’t connect with them and it keeps happening again and again.

To understand if a relationship can be healed, please read https://tarkvanem.ee/paarisuhe, see a family therapist(www.pereterapeudid.ee) or ask for mental health support https://peaasi.ee/kysi-noustajalt/

 

 

How do I formalise a divorce?

If you are legally married, follow the instructions on how to formalise your divorce. It is possible to divorce by mutual agreement between the spouses, either in a vital statistics office or notary’s office, or in the case of a dispute, in court. The vital statistics offices with jurisdiction to grant a divorce involve local authorities of the county centres and Tallinn Vital Statistics Department.

Divorce in a vital statistics office

The vital statistics office may divorce the marriage if both spouses are residents of Estonia.

In order to divorce, the spouses must personally submit a joint written application in Estonian and a document certifying the conclusion of the marriage, as well as identity documents. The filing of a document or data is not required if the data needed to register the divorce can be obtained from the population register.

A state fee of 50 euros must be paid for registering a divorce. The state fee must be paid before the application is submitted to the vital statistics office that will confirm the divorce. If one of the spouses is unable to appear in person at the vital statistics office to submit a joint application for duly justified reasons, they may submit a separate notarised application.

All foreign documents must be legalised or certified by apostille (unless an international agreement stipulates otherwise), translated into Estonian, English or Russian, and accompanied by an attestation of a notary, a sworn translator or a consular officer regarding the authenticity of the translation.

Divorce is not granted earlier than one month and not later than three months from the filing of the application for divorce. If one of the spouses is unable to come to the vital statistics office on the date of the divorce for duly justified reasons, they may separately submit consent to the divorce without their presence, which is either notarised or certified by a consular officer.

After entry of the divorce has been made, the official will issue a certificate of divorce to the petitioners at their request. The certificate can be issued to both applicants and the first issue is free of charge.

If you have lost your divorce certificate or you need it in a foreign language (English, German or French) to submit it to a foreign country, you can order a new duplicate certificate by using the e-population register or by submitting an application to the local authority or Estonian foreign mission in your county centre.

A state fee must be paid for the issue of the certificate. The state fee for an electronic certificate issued by a local authority is 5 euros and for a paper certificate 10 euros, while the state fee for a certificate issued by an Estonian foreign mission is 20 euros. 

For more information, contact your local authority or, in international cases, the Estonian foreign mission. You can find the contact details for Estonian foreign missions here.

Divorce at a notary’s office

If a notary is involved in the separation process, the divorce is granted by agreement of the spouses on the basis of a joint declaration prepared on the site. A notary may also grant a divorce if at least one of the divorcing spouses is a resident abroad.

You will need to bring the identity documents of the divorcing couple and, if the divorce is not registered in the population register, a document certifying the marriage.

If one of the spouses is unable to appear in person at the notary’s office to submit a joint application for duly justified reasons, they may submit a separate notarised application.

All foreign documents must be legalised or certified by apostille (unless an international agreement stipulates otherwise), translated into Estonian, English or Russian, and accompanied by an attestation of a notary, a sworn translator or a consular officer regarding the authenticity of the translation.

After the petition for divorce has been filed, the notary determines the date of the divorce on which they will grant the divorce in the presence of both spouses. If one of the spouses is unable to come to the vital statistics office at the prescribed time for good reason, they may separately submit consent to the divorce without their presence, which is either notarised or certified by a consular officer.

You must pay the notary’s fee (64 euros), plus VAT, for obtaining a divorce at a notary’s office. This includes the reception of the divorce petition, the legal advice and the preparation of the entry.

For more information please contact the Chamber of Notaries https://www.notar.ee/et

 

 

Divorce in court

Divorce is granted in court if the spouses disagree on the matter of divorce or the circumstances of divorce, or if the vital statistics office is not competent to grant the divorce. When filing a statement of claim for divorce, you will have to pay a state fee of 100 euros. When paying the state fee, you must use the unique reference number provided by the court.

Information on divorce in Estonian courts can be obtained from Harju County Court, Tallinn, Lubja 4, by e-mail harjumk.info@kohus.ee or tel. 620 0100

 

How do I get divorced if my husband is a foreigner?

The Estonian vital statistics office divorces marriages where both spouses are residents of Estonia. If one or both spouses live abroad, the divorce is formalised through a notary and Estonian foreign missions. 

The vital statistics office may divorce the marriage if both spouses are residents of Estonia. A notary may also grant a divorce if at least one of the divorcing spouses is a resident abroad. If you are divorcing in a foreign country, you must contact the Estonian foreign mission.

All foreign documents must be legalised or certified by apostille (unless an international agreement stipulates otherwise), translated into Estonian, English or Russian, and accompanied by an attestation of a notary, a sworn translator or a consular officer regarding the authenticity of the translation

 

Where can I find psychological help during a separation?

Separation is a stressful life event and you should seek psychological support if necessary. It will help you to be a better parent to your child and to look after yourself. 

It is possible to communicate face-to-face with the psychologist in their office or via online counselling. You can read more about what working with a psychologist looks like, when you go for an appointment, at https://peaasi.ee/psuhholoogi-juures/. Psychological support is usually paid for by the client, but many local authorities offer the service free of charge, or if necessary, compensate the cost of your service. In local authorities, it is worth contacting the social services department.

You can ask for psychological advice online via the website of the National Institute for Health Development www.tarkvanem.ee and MTÜ Peaasjad www.peaasi.ee

Psychologists in Estonia are brought together by the Eesti Psühholoogide Liit (Union of Estonian Psychologists) and family therapists by the Eesti Pereteraapia Ühing (Estonian Association of Family Therapy) 

If you feel more comfortable on the phone, the following phones lines are available for advice:

  • Child Helpline: 116 111 (24 h) – gives advice and discusses issues related to children and parenting, takes reports of children in need.
  • Victim Support Helpline: 116 006 (24 h) – provides urgent help for people who have been victims of crime, neglect or abuse, or who have experienced physical, psychological, economic or sexual violence.
  • Crisis Helpline 116 123 (24h) – get support to help you cope with a mental health crisis caused by an illness, accident or life situation and to help you feel safe.
  • Emotional Support Helpline: 6558 088 (in Estonian), 655 5688 (in Russian) (every day from 19–07) - for people in emotional crisis, depressed, deeply troubled by loss and grief, loneliness, suffering from violence, experiencing various relationship and family problems, social difficulties or wishing to leave life behind.
     

    Where can I find legal help in a divorce process?

    If you have decided or feel the need to go to court for a divorce, you will also need legal advice, which is usually for a charge.  Under certain conditions, state aid is available. Resolving disagreements through the family mediation service is more effective than going to court.

    Estonian lawyers are brought together by the Bar Association.

    In particular, if due to their financial situation, a person is unable to pay for expert legal advice at the time when legal aid is needed, or is only able to do so in part or in instalments, or if their financial situation does not allow for coping after paying for legal services, they can apply for state legal aid.

    Legal services are also available from the Estonian Union for Child Welfare and you can contact the Chancellor of Justice’s Office to protect your rights and the rights of your child. More effective than going to court is the family mediation service, which you can apply for at the Estonian National Social Insurance Board or your local authority.

     

    Family mediation service

    If it does not seem like disputes about your child’s living arrangements can be resolved without the help of the courts, it is better to turn to a family mediation service.

    The family mediation service is intended for parents of at least one common minor child who have separated or are separating, and who have not been able to agree on the child’s living arrangements (e.g., contact arrangements, maintenance support).

    As a neutral party, the family mediator helps parents to mediate and reach a mutually satisfactory agreement.

    Family mediation is a quicker, less costly, more mentally healthy and child-friendly method for parents, and the agreements between parents are more effective than in court proceedings.

    To find a family mediator, call 116 111 or e-mail perelepitus@sotsiaalkindlustusamet.ee.

     

    Allowances for single parents

    When you divorce, there is no need to fear that this will lead to the loss of benefits for bringing up children and that the parent and the child will be in financial difficulty. All the benefits to which the family was entitled remain with the child’s carer. 

    Depending on the situation, a single parent may qualify:

    • Child benefit for each child until the age of 16 or until the age of 19 if they complete secondary education (60 euros per month for 1–2 children in a family, 100 euros per month including the third child);
    • Parental benefit for a child for a parent that stays at home after birth;
    • Childbirth grant (320 euros) for the birth of a child, 1,000 euros per child in the case of twins, triplets, etc.;
    • Support for families with 3–6 children (300 euros per family) and 7 or more (400 euros per family);
    • Single parent’s child allowance (19.18 euros) if the child’s birth certificate does not mention the name of the child’s father or if the child’s other parent has been declared officially fugitive.
    • Monthly payments for both the parent of a disabled child (amount depends on the degree of disability) and the disabled parent (19.18 euros per month). In addition, if the child’s parents are divorced, maintenance allowance is available. There are different ways to apply for it and pay it, which you can read more about on the maintenance allowance page.

      To apply for benefits, contact iseteenindus.sotsiaalkindlustusamet.ee or Social Security.

       

      Separation as a foster family or adoptive family

      A child’s best environment for growth and development is their family. Unfortunately, not all children have the opportunity to grow up with their birth parents. This is why there are a number of children in Estonia to whom foster parents have opened their hearts. If, as foster parents, you find yourself in a situation where it is difficult to continue your relationship with your partner, or you need support to understand each other better, you can use psychological support or foster care support services, which are available for foster families, guardians or adopters.

      However, if you come to the realisation that you do not want to continue together and have not had the help of support services or couples therapy to rebuild the relationship and find each other again, you will have the same questions as all divorcing couples.

      But how do you separate in a way that minimises the suffering of children who have been taken into a loving family and who have already had many difficulties in their lives? How do you go through separation in a way that supports your children and does not end your relationship as parents? In such a situation, the family mediation service can help.

      When they go into family mediation, parents are often focused on what they disagree on with each other and find it difficult to see common ground. In reality, as parents, you both want the best for your children, and family mediation helps to focus on this, so that the children are mentally healthy and maintain a healthy relationship with both parents. Therefore, the changes in your life as foster parents are not very different from those of other families who have decided to end their relationship. However, there are also small nuances that may affect your separation and that should be taken into account.

      If you are a foster carer for a child, it is important to inform the child’s guardian of the situation when considering separation. The child’s guardian should also be informed if a decision has been made to use family mediation services to ensure a healthier separation. The guardian of the child has the right to know if the family providing a foster family service to the child in their care has decided to change their living arrangements, as the change may involve a change of contracting partner for the local authority, and sometimes it is necessary to find a new family for the child, etc. A guardian may also be able to help pay for a mediation service. Every situation is different, so it is important to talk to the child’s guardian and keep them informed about possible solutions.

      If you have adopted a child from a family other than your own, the child will have two new loving parents with custody rights, and in the event of divorce, the process will be the same as for all parents who have decided to separate. It is important to arrange a new life by mutual agreement so that the children who have been taken into a loving family suffer as little as possible. In a family meeting, a third neutral party can help you to negotiate with each other on a child-centred basis, so that the children’s well-being and interests can remain the focus.

      If the adoption has taken place within the family, where one spouse adopts the other spouse’s child, thereby gaining equal rights and responsibilities towards the children through adoption, a family lawyer may be of help in the divorce, as there may be more emotions, inner turmoil, fears and negotiations than in a normal divorce. Again, it would certainly be helpful to have a family mediator who can help to resolve the situation in a child-friendly way, who can be supportive, so that it is possible to understand each other’s views and needs without prejudice and blame, and to move towards cooperation.

      If you have been appointed guardian by the court, you should also inform the court in the event of a divorce if the role and responsibilities of the guardian change in connection with the divorce. In such a situation, it would also be advisable to think first, with the help of a family mediator, about the future living arrangements for you and your children and how this will affect the role of the guardian. In this respect, after the family mediation process, the local authority can be contacted for advice on how to approach the courts in a situation where roles change and a legal settlement is needed.

      To find a family mediator, call 116 111 or e-mail perelepitus@sotsiaalkindlustusamet.ee.

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      How do I leave an abusive relationship?

      If your partner is intimidating you, trying to control you, has threatened you or has hurt you, it’s especially important to consider your own safety when breaking up.

      Victim support workers can help you leave an abusive relationship, give you advice and, if necessary, help you put together a safety plan. 

      Women’s shelters are open in every county, offering safe accommodation if you feel it is unsafe to stay at home. In addition, women’s shelters provide legal assistance and psychological counselling.

      Through the court, you can apply for a restraining order to help prevent new offences. Read more about the protection order here (PDF) (PDF).

      Read more about forms of violence and victim support services at www.palunabi.ee 

       

      If there is an imminent danger, call the police immediately at 112

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