November 4, 2009

Bulgarian Orthodox Church to Charge More to Approve Divorces

by Clive Leviev-Sawyer
Oct 27 2009
Sophia Echo

A few months after Bulgaria approved changes to its Family Code to allow fast-track divorces, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church is planning to increase its fee for recognising a divorce in canon law.

According to a report in mass-circulation daily Trud on October 27 2009, the Sofia metropolitinate of the church plans to increase the fee for approving a divorce from 12 to 30 leva.

Churches marriages and divorces in themselves have no legal effect in Bulgaria. Article 46 of the Bulgarian constitutions says that "matrimony shall be a free union between a man and a woman. Only a civil marriage shall be legal".

However, the church does not allow divorcees to re-marry without official church approval. If approvals are given, the church will allow a person to re-marry up to three times after the first divorce.

While, after the fall of communism, church marriages became more fashionable in Bulgaria, not every civil divorce is matched by an approach to the church for its sanction.

According to Trud, an average 100 dissolutions of religious marriage are issued in Sofia a year, and the numbers are even lower in small eparchies: 39 in Varna and only six in Vratsa in 2008, the newspaper said.

On June 11 2009, Bulgaria’s Parliament approved changes to the Family Code opening the way for fast-track divorces.

Before the change, divorce by mutual consent could be applied for only after three years of marriage. The amendments approved by Parliament allow for divorce a day after the wedding.