New bill would make registering a partnership or naming a child in Czechia easier

Proposed changes to the law concerning registries would also make it easier to establish actual paternity. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 15.11.2022 08:00:00 (updated on 14.11.2022) Reading time: 3 minutes

Concluding civil partnerships, establishing paternity, and giving a child an unusual name may become easier in Czechia if an amendment to the law on civil registries proposed by the Interior Ministry is passed. The bill will soon be discussed by the government and will then go to the Czech parliament for approval. It could come into force on Jan. 1, 2024.

If a same-sex couple wants to enter into a registered partnership, in most cases they cannot do so in their own municipality, even if it has a registry office. The current law allows registered partnerships to be concluded only at 14 registry offices such as the ones in Prague 1, Kladno, or Ostrava.

The Interior Ministry’s amendment would abolish this restriction and allow people to enter into a registered partnership at any registry office.

“The current situation is simply unfair. I see no reason for future registered partners to make declarations only at 14 selected offices, when every registry office can handle this task,” Interior Minister Vít Rakušan said on the ministry website, adding that this is one way he wants to level the playing field for same-sex couples.

Same-sex marriage currently is still not allowed under Czech law and remains a taboo subject for many. The proposed changes to the registry law do not address the issue.

Registering the real father

The proposal brings other innovations in the field of family law. Newly, paternity could be determined by a three-party agreement, or a consent statement of the mother, her husband (who is not the father), and the real father. Currently, the court must order at least one hearing in the case. This normally takes two to three months but can be longer.

“Sometimes there are unenviable situations when, for example, a divorcing wife is already pregnant by her new partner and the divorce is still pending. If she is not divorced and before the child is born … her husband, who is not the father of the child, is registered as the father, and then he has to deny paternity,” Chamber of Notaries president Radim Neubauer told the magazine Tema.

Unusual first names

It will be also possible to enter nicknames or diminutive names in the registry book. The current law states that any name existing anywhere in the world can be entered in the civil registry, but only in the correct spelling. For the time being, names that have distinctive spellings, diminutive names, or are completely made up cannot be registered.

Czechs tend to be conservative when giving first names, though there is some diversity. In 2019, the Czech Statistical Office (ČSÚ) recorded 582 different boys' and 678 girls' names given in January 2019 to over 9,403 babies. Unusual entries then included Heliodor or Kosma for boys and Madonna Mia or Briana for girls.

Some foreign parents, though, have had difficulty giving children unique spellings or obscure ethnic names.

Another change allows for determining the place of birth or death that occurs in a means of transport to be registered according to the place where the event actually took place.

Introducing a modern electronic system

The amendment also provides for the introduction of an electronic registration system that will connect registers with other state systems. This will, for example, make it possible to submit a request for a registry document at any registry office or embassy, which will be able to issue the document immediately, even in electronic form. The system is planned to be put into operation at the beginning of 2027, the Interior Ministry said.

Last year, the Czech parliament approved an amendment to unconditionally allow any woman to use a surname without the -ová ending. Previously, it could only be done if certain if there were practical reasons such as marriage to a foreigner or plans to live abroad. The amendment was signed by President Miloš Zeman and took effect in January 2022. Initial demand for dropping the -ová ending was low.

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