Question 40: Which level of trial will be included in a divorce case? What is the maximum time from the acceptance of a divorce petition and adjudication until a decision is made in the trial of each level? Is there any exception?

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Like other civil cases, according to the Civil Proceedings Code 2015, there are two levels of trial in a divorce dispute: the first instance trial and the appellate trial. Courts handle and resolve divorce cases under the law on civil procedures[2], specifically as follows:

  1. First instance trial

Time for acceptance:

Within 03 working days from the date of receipt of the petition, the Chief Justice of the Court shall assign a Judge to consider the petition. Within 05 working days from the date of assignment, the Judge must consider the petition[4] and decide whether or not to proceed with the case. If the lawsuit petition is valid, the  plaintiff has a time limit of 07 days to pay the court fee advanceand the Court will accept the case after the plaintiff has submitted the receipt for payment of advance Court fee.

Time for adjudication until a decision by the Court is made:

For ordinary divorce cases, there is no situation involving the suspension or postponement of the case. The time limit for a unilateral divorce to be solved is of 04 months as from the date of the competent Court’s acceptance of the case. For complicated cases or due to force majeure events or objective obstacles, the Chief Justice of the Court may decide to extend the time limit for trial preparation but not exceeding 2 months.

2. Appellate trial

A first instance judgement or decision or a part of a first instance judgement or decision which are not appealed or protested shall be legally effective as from the expiry date of the time limit for lodging an appeal or protest according to appellate procedures. The time limit for lodging an appeal or protest by the spouses and the Procuracy at the same level is 15 days, starting from the date of rendition of the judgement. The time limit for lodging a protest by the Direct Superior Procuracy is 01 month, starting from the date of rendition of the judgement. Therefore, the decision of the first instance Court is only effective if it is not being appealed or protested within one-month period starting from the date of rendition.

Time of acceptance of appeal

As mentioned above, during the time allocated for lodging an appeal if the decision of the first instance Court is appealed by the litigant or is protested by the Procuracy, an appellate trial may be opened[6]. The first instance Court is responsible for considering the validity of the appeal or protest petition. If the appeal is valid, the petitioner shall have 10 days to pay the court fee advancefor the appeal. The Court shall accept the appeal after the petitioner submits the receipt for advance Court fee. For a protest by the Procuracy, the Court will accept it as soon as they find it valid.

Time for preparation of an appellate trial

The time limit for the preparation of the appellate trial is of 02 months, starting from the date of acceptance of the case. For complicated cases, due to force majeure events or objective obstacles, this time limit may be extended for 01 month.

Within 01 month from the day on which the decision to bring the case to trial is issued, the Court must open an appellate trial; this time limit will be extended for 02 months in case of a reasonable excuse.

3. Exceptions

The time for acceptance and adjudication until the decision of the Court as mentioned above is only the time for ordinary divorce cases. For divorce cases involving foreign element, the time may be longer depending on particular facts and incidents in those cases. After receiving the plaintiff’’s sufficient lawsuit dossier, the Court must send a notice of acceptance of the case, clearly stating the time and location of the meeting to check the handover, access, publication of evidence, conciliation, time for reopening the mediation session, and opening and reopening of the trial. The mediation session must be opened after 06 months at the earliest and no later than 08 months from the date the Court issues a written notice of the case acceptance. The reopening date of the mediation session (if any) is fixed at one month from the opening of the mediation session. The trial must be opened as early as 09 months and within 12 months at the latest from the date of issuing the written notice of the case acceptance. The trial is reopened after a period of 01 month starting at the latest from the first trial[8]. In addition, before opening the mediation session, it is necessary to confirm the judicial entrustment procedure; the time limit for the examination of papers and documents of foreign competent authorities, the time limit for considering and resolving civil cases, etc. Currently, there is no specific regulation on the time to perform the legal mandate. In addition, the implementation of judicial entrustment depends on many factors such as geography and relevant international treaties. It is these things that lead the resolution of a divorce case involving foreign element to last longer than a regular divorce case.

In addition, the process of resolving a divorce case may be extended if there are any grounds to suspend the case as prescribed by law. Additionally, even if the trial has started the duration of the trial remains difficult to establish, as the Court may suspend or postpone the trial when one of the legal grounds occurs as provided by law, or the trial may last for many days if the case is complicated.


[2] Article 53.1 of the Law on Marriage and Family 2014.

[4] Article 191 of the Civil Proceedings Code 2015.

[6] Article 273.1 of the Civil Proceedings Code 2015.

[8] Article 476.2 of the Civil Proceedings Code 2015.

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