PARENTAL RIGHTS IN TURKISH LAW
According to Turkish Civil Code, in a divorce case, the court decides about custody of the children, if the spouses do not agree on. If the court’s offers are not accepted, the case continues as a contested divorce.
When deciding on custody, the first issue to be considered is the age of the child. Children between 0-3 years are considered to be in need of the mother. Therefore, taking the child of this age from his mother to his father is harmful for the child’s personal development. But if there is a situation that the child’s life threatening, custody may be left to the father. When deciding on the custody of the 0-3 year old child, the mother’s work, salary and even lifestyle are not taken into consideration.
On the other hand, because of the custody subject is about public order, in these cases, the principle of ex officio application applies. Children’s mind and body development is important before the wishes of the parents.
Children between 3-7 years of age are less dependent on the mother’s care. However, it is an exception that custody of a child in this age group is taken from the mother and given to the father. There should be reasons such as the mother’s inability to care for the child or the poor health, in order to give custody of the child to the father.
In the custody of 6-12 year-old school-age children, the important thing is the financial opportunities that the mother or father will offer to the child. The parent who can provide a better education for the child is one step ahead. Before deciding on custody of a child on this ages, the court assigns social workers to prepare a report on the child. This report is not binding for the court, but the judges decide according to this report.
Before a decision about custody of children over 12 years of age, the court listens to these children. however, the court is not bound by the request of the children.
While the court decides the custody of the child, it decides to establish a personal relationship between the child and the parent which has not custody right. The parent who wants to see his/her child, must take the court order and apply to the execution office. Notwithstanding, if the parent cannot see his/her child, he/she should file a lawsuit and request that the custody be changed.