How Long Do Divorce Cases Take in Turkey?

How Long Does Uncontested Divorce Take?

Uncontested divorce cases are those in which spouses apply together or when one spouse initiates the case and the requests made in the lawsuit are accepted by the other spouse.

Uncontested divorce cases are usually concluded between 1 week and 3 months from the filing of the case. Uncontested divorce cases often end in a single hearing.

Since uncontested divorce cases are based on the agreement of the parties, they are subject to a different procedure than contested divorce cases in practice.

In contested divorce cases, for the judge to reach a decision, a trial must be conducted. This involves the judge gathering evidence by evaluating the claims of the parties and legally assessing them.

In uncontested divorce cases, such a trial process is not necessary because the parties have already reached an agreement, settling the outcome that the judge would arrive at through the trial process. Therefore, the judge examines whether the agreement between the parties contains conditions contrary to public order. If no discrepancies are found, the judge approves the agreement, concluding the case.

Since the judge is not required to go through processes such as responding to the lawsuit, responding to the response, responding to the response to the response, and gathering evidence, uncontested divorce cases are generally concluded within the first week after filing. They become final when the parties waive their right to appeal.

How Many Hearings Does a Contested Divorce Case Take?

A contested divorce case concludes with the completion of the preliminary examination and investigation stages. The preliminary examination hearing is followed by the testimony of witnesses, which may take 2-3 hearings depending on the number of witnesses. If other evidence is to be presented, the case proceeds to an oral trial hearing. Considering these stages, it can be said that a contested divorce case typically concludes in an average of 3-4 hearings.

Upon filing a contested divorce case, the lawsuit petition is served to the other party; the responding party (defendant) provides an answer to the lawsuit petition; the plaintiff may respond to this answer, and the defendant may also exercise the right to submit a response to this response, known as the “reply to the response” petition. In other words, each party has the right to submit two petitions.

After the parties exercise their right to submit two petitions each following the filing of the case, a preliminary examination hearing takes place.

In this scenario, the preliminary examination hearing takes place around the average of the 5th to 6th month after the initiation of the case.

The adjournment period between each hearing is around 3 months in large cities such as Istanbul and Ankara. Therefore, for the year 2023, the resolution of a divorce case in a local court takes approximately 16-18 months.

Appellate Review of Divorce Decision

The reasoned decision issued by the family court is served to the parties. In this case, the parties have the right to submit the decision to a higher court for review. This review process is referred to as an appellate review or ‘istinaf’ examination.

Appellate reviews are conducted in the relevant chambers of the Regional Courts of Justice. The appellate review process is typically completed within an average period of 6 to 12 months.

After the appellate review at the Regional Courts of Justice, it is possible to further appeal the decision of the local court to a higher court. The authority to be appealed to after the appellate review at the Regional Courts of Justice is the relevant chamber of the Court of Cassation (Yargıtay). In divorce cases, the 2nd Civil Chamber of the Court of Cassation is the body that conducts the appellate review after the appellate review.

The Court of Cassation’s 2nd Civil Chamber typically completes the appellate review in an average of 10-12 months.

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How to Win a Dower Lawsuit?

How can a woman win a dower lawsuit, and how can a man defend himself in a dower lawsuit?

1 – What is Dower?

Dower is defined as jewelry made of precious metals such as gold and silver, worn by people as decorative accessories (Yılmaz, E.: Legal Dictionary, Ankara 2011, p. 1529). It is possible to define dower items as gifts given to the bride and groom during marriage. In this context, items such as bracelets, gold cuffs, necklaces, pendants, jewelry sets, bracelets, watches, earrings, and rings are considered as dower items (Sağıroğlu, M.Ş.: Dower Lawsuits, Istanbul 2013, p.3).

2 – Who Owns Dower Items?

Unless there is a contrary agreement between spouses or a local custom on this matter, jewelry given to any spouse during marriage is considered a gift to the female spouse and becomes her personal property. Indeed, the same principle has been adopted in the decisions of the General Assembly of Law dated 05.05.2004 with the numbers 2004/4-249 E. and 2004/247 K.; 04.03.2020 with the numbers 2017/3-1040 E., 2020/240 K.

The dower lawsuit should not be confused with the division of the matrimonial property after the end of marriage. This lawsuit is a personal property claim, so the termination of the marital union or the filing of a divorce case is not required.

3 – How Can a Woman Win the Dower Lawsuit?

In dower lawsuits, the subject of the dispute, dower items, are items that can be easily stored, carried, and taken away. Therefore, it is common for these items to be in the possession of the female spouse. Moreover, based on life experiences, it is common for such items to be on the woman or kept at home. It is inconsistent with the normal situation for these items to be left in the possession and protection of the man. The woman claiming otherwise is obliged to prove her claim.

In dower item lawsuits, the primary rule in terms of proof law is that the woman plaintiff must prove the existence of the claimed dower items in terms of type, number, quality, and quantity.

After proving the existence of the dower items in this way, the woman must also prove that these items were taken from her during the marital union and were not returned, or she did not have the opportunity to take these items with her when leaving the house. In other words, the woman claiming the right to dower must prove, beyond doubt, that the claimed dower items, whose existence she has proven, are not in her possession.

4 – How Can a Man Win a Dower Lawsuit?

If the woman, through concrete evidence, proves that dower items, considered her personal property, have left her possession and entered the possession of the man in a way that leaves no doubt, then the man is burdened with proving that he is not obligated to return the dower items belonging to the woman.

According to the general provisions of the law of obligations; the main rule is that the debtor is obliged to return what he received. The burden of proof that it was not received for return rests with the party benefiting from the legal consequence based on the claimed fact, as emphasized above. Therefore, the man, who admits that he received these dower items into his possession, must prove that he took them without the intention of returning them.

5 – How to Win a Dower Lawsuit? Does the Man’s Counter-Evidence Change the Burden of Proof?

The general rule about the burden of proof is stated in Article 6 of the Turkish Civil Code as, ‘Unless otherwise stipulated by law, each party is obliged to prove the existence of the facts on which it bases its claim.’ and in Article 190 of the Code of Civil Procedure, ‘Unless otherwise stipulated by law, the burden of proof rests with the party benefiting from the legal consequence based on the claimed fact. The party relying on a legal presumption is only responsible for proving the facts underlying that presumption. Except for the exceptions provided by law, the party against whom the presumption is relied upon may prove the opposite of the legal presumption.’ These two regulations are parallel to each other, and Article 190/1 of the Code of Civil Procedure is a more explicit expression than Article 6 of the Turkish Civil Code.

Based on the general regulation mentioned above, the legislator stated that there are some exceptions to the general rule regarding the burden of proof by saying, ‘Unless otherwise stipulated by law.’ One of these exceptions is the situation where the party claiming the opposite of the normal situation is obliged to prove their claim. The party relying on a normal situation does not have to prove their claim; on the contrary, the burden of proof lies with the party claiming something contrary to the normal course of events.

As mentioned above, dower items are items that can be easily stored, carried, and taken away. Therefore, it is common for these items to be in the possession of the female spouse. Moreover, based on life experiences, it is common for such items to be on the woman or kept at home. The woman claiming otherwise is obliged to prove her claim.

According to Article 191 of the Turkish Civil Code, which is titled ‘Counter-Evidence,’ ‘The other party may present evidence that the party bearing the burden of proof is incorrect. The party presenting evidence for counter-proof is not considered to have assumed the burden of proof.’ Therefore, the burden of proof that must be fulfilled by the party bearing the primary burden of proof should be called primary proof.

If the party responsible for the primary burden of proof cannot prove their claim, it will not be necessary for the party not responsible for the primary burden of proof to prove the opposite of the claim. The case will be considered unproven. However, according to the mentioned article, the party not responsible for the primary burden of proof may either wait for the other party to prove the opposite of the claim or present evidence to prove the opposite of the claim.

This evidence is called counter-evidence. The crucial point to note here is that the party presenting counter-evidence is not considered to have assumed the burden of proof. The party not responsible for the primary burden of proof only tries to refute the other party’s claim by presenting counter-evidence and thus makes it difficult for the other party to prove their claim.

In conclusion, the party bearing the primary burden of proof cannot demand a favorable outcome solely because there is evidence based on counter-proof if they cannot prove their claim with their own evidence. All these explanations underlie the fact that the party not responsible for the primary burden of proof presents evidence against the evidence presented by the party bearing the primary burden of proof. After the party responsible for the primary burden of proof proves a fact, the burden of proof shifts to the other party. Then the other party must prove that the fact is not true or has become invalid for another reason. Otherwise, they lose the case.”

Women’s Rights in Divorce Cases in Turkey

According to the Turkish Civil Code numbered 4721, adopted on January 1, 2002, the rights and status of a woman who divorces are among the most important and frequently asked questions during the divorce period. The rights of a divorced woman can be listed as follows:

Alimony (Maintenance): In the case of divorce, the party in a financially weaker position has the right to request alimony from the other party. Alimony is determined by the court based on specified conditions. A divorced woman can request alimony depending on her financial situation. After divorce, the financially disadvantaged spouse can seek alimony from the other spouse. Alimony is paid with the aim of improving the economic situation of the spouse and ensuring their sustenance.

Child Support (Child Participation Alimony): One of the divorced spouses is obligated to provide financial support for the children. This includes contributing to the care, education, and general needs of the children.

Contribution Share and Compensation for Marital Unity: According to the Turkish Civil Code, if both spouses have contributed during the marital unity, a contribution share can be claimed when the marital unity ends. A divorced woman can also claim compensation for contributions made during the marital unity.

Distribution of Acquired Assets during Marital Unity: Turkish law recognizes marital property regimes, and the distribution of assets acquired during marital unity depends on the chosen regime. In case of divorce, the settlement of assets according to the chosen regime may be considered. The court determines the distribution of assets acquired during marital unity, considering factors such as the couple’s economic situation and the duration of the marriage, to ensure fair distribution.

Child Custody and Care: If the couple has children, decisions regarding child custody and care are made in the event of divorce. The court decides on custody with the best interests of the children in mind. In cases where there are children, the court will make decisions regarding custody, taking into account the best interests of the children.

Right to Fault Compensation: Fault is a significant factor in divorce cases. The faults of the parties toward each other can impact issues such as asset distribution, alimony, and other matters. Additionally, one spouse may seek compensation from the other for the grounds of divorce.

The duration of a divorce case in Turkey

The duration of a divorce case in Turkey can vary widely based on several factors, including the complexity of the case, whether it is contested or uncontested, and the caseload of the court. Here are some factors that can influence the timeline:

  1. Contested vs. Uncontested:
    • Uncontested divorces, where both parties agree on the terms, tend to be resolved more quickly than contested divorces, which involve disputes over issues such as child custody, alimony, and property division.
  2. Court Caseload:
    • The workload of the family courts can affect the processing time. Courts with a high caseload may take longer to schedule hearings and finalize cases.
  3. Mandatory Waiting Period:
    • Turkish law may have a mandatory waiting period before a divorce can be finalized. For example, there might be a waiting period after filing the initial petition.
  4. Negotiation and Mediation:
    • If parties can reach agreements through negotiation or mediation, it can expedite the process. However, if disputes are ongoing, it may take longer to resolve issues.
  5. Complexity of Issues:
    • Complex issues such as child custody arrangements, business valuations, or disputes over significant assets can prolong the divorce process.
  6. Conciliation Attempt:
    • In Turkey, there is a mandatory conciliation attempt before divorce proceedings can continue. The conciliation process may add time to the overall timeline.
  7. Appeals and Legal Procedures:
    • If either party appeals a court decision or if there are additional legal procedures, it can extend the duration of the case.

Given these variables, it is challenging to provide a specific timeframe for completing a divorce case in Turkey. On average, an uncontested divorce might take a few months, while a contested divorce can take considerably longer, potentially extending to a year or more.

It’s crucial to consult with a family law attorney in Turkey to get a more accurate estimate based on the specific details of your case. The attorney can provide guidance, explain the relevant laws, and help manage expectations regarding the duration of the divorce process.

What are the differences between English divorce law and Turkish divorce law?

While both English and Turkish divorce laws share some common principles, there are significant differences between the two legal systems. It’s important to note that family law is subject to change, and the information provided here is based on general principles as of my last knowledge update in January 2022. For the most accurate and up-to-date information, consult with legal professionals in the respective jurisdictions. Here are some key differences between English and Turkish divorce laws:

**1. Grounds for Divorce:

  • England: In England, there are mainly two grounds for divorce: fault-based (e.g., adultery or unreasonable behavior) or no-fault-based (living apart for a specified period). No-fault divorce was introduced under the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020, allowing couples to divorce without attributing blame.
  • Turkey: Turkish law recognizes both fault-based and no-fault divorce. Fault-based grounds include adultery, cruelty, and other specified reasons, while no-fault divorce can be based on mutual consent or separation.

**2. Residency Requirements:

  • England: There is no residency requirement for filing for divorce in England, but there are jurisdictional considerations.
  • Turkey: Turkish law has residency requirements, and generally, one of the spouses must be a Turkish citizen or both spouses must be foreigners with residence in Turkey.

**3. Alimony (Nafaka):

  • England: In England, alimony is often referred to as spousal maintenance. The court considers factors such as the financial needs, responsibilities, and resources of each party when determining the amount.
  • Turkey: Alimony, known as nafaka, may be awarded to the economically weaker spouse. The court considers factors such as financial need, the financial situation of the parties, and the duration of the marriage.

**4. Child Custody:

  • England: The best interests of the child are the primary consideration in determining child custody arrangements. Joint custody is encouraged, and the court may consider the child’s wishes depending on their age.
  • Turkey: Child custody decisions in Turkey also prioritize the best interests of the child. In many cases, especially for younger children, the court may grant custody to the mother.

**5. Property Division:

  • England: England follows the principle of “fairness” in property division. The court considers various factors, including financial contributions, needs, and the standard of living during the marriage.
  • Turkey: Marital property in Turkey is generally subject to equal division between spouses.

**6. Mediation:

  • England: Mediation is actively encouraged in England, and couples are generally required to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) before filing for divorce.
  • Turkey: While not mandatory, mediation or conciliation services may be required by the court before proceeding with the divorce process.

These are general differences, and it’s crucial to consult with legal professionals familiar with the specific laws and regulations in England and Turkey for accurate and current information. Family law can be complex, and legal advice is essential to navigate the divorce process effectively.


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