Parents of children who are parties in the court cases for custody and parental rights justiciable to the Bulgarian courts should be familiar with the law requirement that the children who have reached 10 years of age must be questioned by the judge. The representative of the local Agency for Child Protection is also presenting on the interrogation of the child.

The judiciary in Bulgaria has three instances as the first and second instance could collect legal evidences including interrogation before a judge.

Prior the interrogation the local Child Protection Agency should prepare a report related with the interests of the child which report should be presented in the court before the child’s interrogation by the judge.

The child’s interrogation could be made also in the second court instance if the respective judge decides to repeat the made by the first instance judge procedural steps, including re-interrogation of the child reached 10 years, as well as to demand a second report from the local social service.

The parents - parties in the custody court cases, must be aware that such of cases are moving slowly over the time, so we are advising parents to try out all possible ways of communication with each other before taking a step to initiate a court case for custody.

The reached agreement between the parents arranging who of them will exercise the parental rights and what will be the regime for visitation with the other parent could be approved directly by the competent court. The agreements between the parents are always recommended by the courts who are obliged to advise the parties in the custody process about the opportunity to use a mediator for reaching an agreement for parental rights. The agreements between the parents are undoubtedly better for the interests of the children than any court judgment for granting of parental rights; especially in those cases where one of the parents’ is living in Bulgaria and the other is living in another country.

Of course, the agreements should not contra with the interests and rights of the parent who will not exercise the parental rights in order to be avoided any symptoms of future parental alienation syndrome and the children to have a full connection with the both parents.

Every agreement and court judgment related with parental rights could be amended by the respective court if the circumstances under which the parental rights are granted has been changed – for example: if parent's parenting skills and attitude towards the child have been worsened; if the relationship between those parent who is exercising the parental rights and the child is noticeably diminished; if the parent’s material status has been changed and it is insufficient to meet the needs of the child, etc. The requirements are specified explicitly in the legislation and could not be interpreted.

Prepared by “Valova and Angelova” law firm