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DIVORCE IN TURKEY - What foreigners need to know about the Turkish legislation

28th November 2017

What foreigners need to know about the Turkish legislation


A divorce is a civil procedure governed by the Turkish civil code. Since its amendment in 2001 the Turkish civil code is pretty similar to European civil codes. A divorce suit is filed at the court of the district where both parties or at least the claimant reside. Normally, the family court (Aile Mahkemesi) is the competent judicial authority, but in smaller districts where there is no family court, the civil court of first instance (Asliye Hukuk Mahkemesi) is authorised to deal with divorce suits.


The Turkish family courts are also in charge of foreign couples who ask for a divorce, provided they reside in Turkey. A divorce application of a British couple which has lived in Turkey for many years may even be rejected by a UK court because the competent judicial authority would be the Turkish court at their place of residence.


The Turkish law knows two ways of divorce: divorce by mutual consent/consensual divorce and contested/contentious divorce.

It is highly recommendable to go for a divorce by mutual consent if ever possible. As the Turkish civil code is still partly based on the fault principle the parties may have to prove their innocence and the other partner’s fault in a contested/contentious divorce procedure. This can be a lengthy and wearing process.

Reasons for divorce accepted by the Turkish civil code are:


Attack on life, cruel or degrading behaviour Maltreatment, physical violence or killing attempt

Crimes committed and dishonourable lifestyle


Insanity of one party/mental disease 

Irretrievable Breakdown of marriage

While the first four reasons are fault-based there is no obviously guilty party in a divorce suit for breakdown of marriage. 

In this article I will only focus on the divorce by mutual consent.

Three conditions must be fulfilled for a divorce by consent/consensual divorce:

The marriage must have lasted for a minimum of one year.

The parties must draw up and sign a divorce protocol

The parties must appear in person before the judge and both declare their intention to divorce. 


The law does not prescribe the employment of a lawyer, but for a smooth processing and to prevent any loss of rights the assistance of a lawyer is highly advisable, especially for a foreign party. If a lawyer is employed, he/she must be issued with a power of attorney. The text must contain the power to deal with divorce cases and a photo of the principal must be stuck on the document.


How does it work in practice?

Both spouses apply to the competent family court (or civil court of first instance) to file the divorce petition which must contain information about the identity of the parties, addresses, marriage date and whether or not there are common children. It is recommended to submit the protocol settling the consequences of the divorce at the same time.

The divorce protocol must regulate the following points:

Division of the common assets

Whether or not a party will receive compensation 

Whether or not alimony payments will be made to a spouse or for common children

If there are common children: who will get the child custody and how will the other party maintain the contact with the child(ren)

Payment of the legal expenses 


It is not sufficient that the spouses agree with the conditions, the judge will only accept the protocol if it is in line with current law and in the best interest of the child(ren).


If the application and the protocol are accepted by the court the divorce is usually pronounced in one single hearing. The divorce decision is then set down in writing and served to both parties. It is also possible to pick up the divorce decision at the competent court in person. After receipt of the decision in writing there is a 15 day time limit for appeal. If none of the parties has filed an appeal, the divorce is final and the annotation of legal effect (kesinleşme şerhi) is added to the decision.

If the parties are sure they do not want to file an appeal they can sign a relevant declaration in front of the secretary at the competent court as soon as the decision has been delivered. 

Do you need legal assistance? - Please contact YellAli to arrange a meeting with a legal representive.

Written by Annette HANİSCH - YellAli Consultant

Content by YellAli - (All Copyright is protected and owned by YellAli - This content may NOT be copied & distributed by another third party, unless appropriate accreditation is given). 

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