Proving paternity and child’s last name

Proving paternity and child’s last name

Bojan Krsnik

Bojan Krsnik

social work graduate

Hello, when registering a child in the birth register, I listed my common-law husband as the father of the child. The centre invited him for an interview, during which he stated that he wanted the paternity to be confirmed by DNA analysis and only then he will enter his name in the birth register, but on the condition that the child bears his last name. I will agree to this because he is the father of the child, but I do not want the child to bear his surname. What to do?

Hello, as far as I can see, this testing will be performed voluntarily. After the test results, if your common-law husband is the father of the child, he will be entered in the birth registry as the father of the child, which you agree with because you listed him as such when registering in the registry office, and he will take on the obligation of material support and other rights and obligations determined by the Family Act. 

If you cannot agree on the child’s last name, according to the Personal Name Act, the personal name will be determined by the competent social welfare centre within 30 days from the day of submitting the request of one of the parents. The personal name of a minor child whose parents are not married will be changed at the request of the parent with whom the child lives or to whom it has been entrusted in accordance with a final court decision, with the consent of the other parent. In the absence of the consent of the other parent, the competent social welfare centre will, at the request of the parent requesting personal name change, determine whether the requested personal name change is in the interest of the child. A parent must also submit the decision of the competent social welfare centre with the request to change the child’s personal name. 

The request for a personal name change is resolved by the competent state administration office in the county, i.e. the City Office for General Administration of the City of Zagreb according to the applicant’s place of residence.




Bojan Krsnik

Bojan Krsnik

social work graduate

Good afternoon. I got married as a minor because I got pregnant. Now to cut a long story short, I live separately from my husband for 6 years and he refuses to allow me the divorce or sign on a divorce. He does not allow me to see our child or call it. He is constantly threating me. He called me and said that he had reported me to a social worker, I do not know why? I do not know what to do. I have been living with another man for a year and a half, he knows the whole situation and he really supports me, and we intend to start a family.

Dear, divorce can be filed by one spouse in a form of a lawsuit, which means that the other spouse does not have to agree with it, and precisely because of such situations you mention, institutions such as courts exist in order to help people who encounter difficulties in their relationships and cannot solve them on their own.


The court shall dissolve a marriage:

  1. if both spouses propose a divorce on the basis of an agreement
  2. if it determines that the marital relations are severely and permanently disturbed or
  3. if one year has elapsed since the dissolution of the marital union.


Spouses who have a minor child together are obliged to participate in compulsory counselling before initiating court proceedings for divorce, and the plaintiff is required to provide a report on compulsory counselling and proof of participation in the first family mediation meeting.

Mandatory counselling is a form of assistance to family members to make consensual decisions on family relations, taking special care to protect family relations in which the child participates and the legal consequences of not reaching an agreement and initiating court proceedings to decide on the child’s personal rights. Compulsory counselling is carried out by the expert team of the Social Welfare Centre competent according to the place where the child lives, i.e. its residence, or according to the place of the last joint residence, i.e. residence of the spouses or common-law partners. 

Please note that the best interests of the child should be borne in mind and despite the broken relationship with your ex-partner, try to protect the child as much as possible because by doing so you are in investing in your mutual quality future.


I am underage; my boyfriend is 30 years old

I am underage; my boyfriend is 30 years old

Biserka Tomljenović

Biserka Tomljenović


I am 16 years old and my boyfriend is 30. He was married and has a child. My parents recently found out about my relationship with him and forbade me to see him, they call him all the time, they threaten me that I will go to a juvenile correctional facility, and that they will call the police on my boyfriend. I am in a relationship with him willingly and there is no coercion. Can I see him freely without them suing him and without having problems with the police or ending up in a juvenile correctional facility? Can I, if I want to, move in with him?

Your question, which may seem simple, is in fact quite sensitive and complicated and can be approached from several directions: 1. your relationship with your parents 2. the provisions of the Criminal Come and the Family Act and 3. your maturation and the issue of maturity regarding making such important life decisions. 

So, let us tackle all of these issues:

  1. Your parents are probably very scared and want to protect you from wrong life decisions by trying to solve the problem using threats and intimidation. Such an approach will almost certainly not bear fruit. Obviously, there has been a significant disagreement between you and your parents over what your life should look like and what your priorities should be. Your boyfriend is twice as old as you are and already has one marriage behind him, nowadays such a love combination is not common and that is why your parents are afraid for you. It is assumed that it is best for a woman to finish school first and gain her economic independence so as not to be completely dependent on the man. I believe your parents act out of a desire to protect you and because they care about you. However, they made a few mistakes in their approach. It would be most useful for you to, as a family, seek the help of an expert (psychologist, social worker) to help you resolve this conflict in the family. I would recommend that you contact a school psychologist or social welfare centre or our Parents’ Association Step-by-Step.
  2. Regarding the legal preconditions for your life with a boyfriend, the situation is as follows: You are a minor and as a minor, you do not have legal capacity, i.e. you do not have the legal right to decide where and how and with whom to live without parental consent. Namely, in the eyes of the law, your parents are responsible for you and your behaviour until adulthood, and that is why such decisions are made by your parents until you reach adulthood. Why is that so? Namely, thousands of years of experience have shown that children up to the age of 18 are still children and that without parental help and guidance they are not mature enough to make all the decisions in their lives. Therefore, the law, in its provisions, actually reflected the millennial experiences of the family. Of course, parents should always involve their child and listen to him or her when making decisions about the child and take the child’s opinion into account whenever possible. The main legal guideline for assessing all circumstances in making decisions about children and minors, whether made by parents or officials or guardians is – THE BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD, and in this case the child is you. So, question number one is – Is it in your best interest to move in with a boyfriend? Will you finish school? Will you be able to achieve all your personal goals? Are you at risk of premature pregnancy? Will such a life provide you with the security and stability needed for your personal development into an independent and self-aware woman?

The law provides for the possibility for a child to turn to a social welfare centre and a court for assistance if he or she is dissatisfied with parental decisions or considers that they have been made to his or her detriment. You have the same opportunity too. Contact the social welfare centre and initiate proceedings against your parents. In doing so, you must be aware that the experts at the Centre will also make all their decisions based on the assessment of YOUR BEST INTEREST. 

If you decide to get married, you must first get approval from the court. It is not up to your parents to decide. Thus, the law clearly states that the marriage of a minor is possible exceptionally and with court approval. If the court approves the marriage, after you conclude the marriage, you will acquire legal capacity – AND BECOME FULLY LEGALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL DECISIONS AND CONSEQUENCES OF YOUR DECISIONS YOU MAKE IN LIFE. In this way, in the eyes of the law, you cease to be a child and become an adult and are expected to take care of yourself and eventually, your child.

Regarding the criminal law and the provisions related to the prosecution of your boyfriend, the situation is clear, your boyfriend will not have problems with the law because of his relationship with you – unless he supports you in fleeing your parents and agrees to you moving in with him without the consent of your parents. 

I also advise you to carefully study the website of the Ministry of the Interior, which explains very nicely about what is acceptable and what is unacceptable behaviour of minors. For all unacceptable behaviours, juveniles may be subject to educational and punitive measures, depending on the type of behaviour.

  1. Independent living brings with it many challenges. It is not easy to be independent and self-sufficient and many women actually just replace their parents with a man, i.e. they leave the care of themselves to a man. Such an approach is very risky for you and especially for your child if you have it. Therefore, before you decide to end your childhood, ask yourself a few questions:

If my parents were not angry with me and if they accepted my boyfriend, would I still want to live with him? 

How do I see my life in five years? What kind of person am I? What job do I do, how do I make money? What kind of relationship do I have with family and friends? Am I employed or is my boyfriend taking care of me? 

Am I willing and able to take care of myself without parental help if my boyfriend leaves me? 

Can I finish school and find a job I want and make my dreams come true without the support of my parents or my boyfriend? 


Namely, if you just replace your parental home with a boyfriend who will actually take care of you, you have not done much, have you? 

Therefore, I would recommend that you start working on the relationship with your parents first, because that is where I see the most benefits for you. Contact a Social Welfare Centre for help or come to our counselling centre to help you with this. You do not seem to have been able to agree on your own, but that does not mean that with the help of an expert you would not be able to reach an agreement. In any case, whatever you decide, I wish you good luck!


Legal capacity

Legal capacity

Biserka Tomljenović

Biserka Tomljenović



I have a question. Can legal capacity be obtained only after marriage or also after the birth of a child? I heard that the law changed on September 1, 2014.

Yes, you heard right, with changes to the Family Act, minors no longer have the possibility of acquiring legal capacity on the basis of the birth of a child. Legal capacity before the age of 18 can only be acquired by marriage with the special approval of the court. The new law sets the age limit for marriage at 18 years. Exceptionally, a court may, in non-contentious proceedings, allow a person who has reached the age of sixteen to enter into marriage if it finds that he or she is mentally and physically ready for marriage and that the marriage is in accordance with that person’s well-being. The new law regulates in Article 114, the so-called suspension of parental care due to legal obstacles, which in fact prevents the minor parent from independently representing the child in relation to decisions relevant to the child EXCEPT regarding the determination of the child’s personal name. In practice, this means that you, as a minor parent, will only be able to give the child a name, and for all other tasks related to, for example, registration of residence, representation in court, deciding where the child will live, etc., the legal representative for your child determined by the court or the Social Welfare Centre will be in charge. What is important to know is that Article 114 also regulates the case if you do not agree with the important decisions made for your child by the appointed legal representative; you as a parent have the right to appeal to the court that will then decide in a non-contentious proceeding. As soon as you reach the age of 18 or acquire legal capacity by entering into marriage, the suspension of parental care suspension due to legal obstacles ceases and you acquire full parental care.

Due to significant changes in the law, the following articles are important in their entirety: Suspension of parental care due to legal obstacles 

Article 114 

(1) The suspension of the exercise of parental care due to legal obstacles occurs in cases when the parent of a child is a minor or a person deprived of legal capacity in the part in which he / she is unable to exercise parental care. 

(2) While the parental care is suspended, the parent referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article may exercise daily childcare independently or together with the other parent of the child or the child’s guardian appointed in accordance with Article 224, items 3 and 4 of this Act. 

(3) The parent referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article may not represent the child, and if he / she is deprived of legal capacity, he / she may not represent the child in the part in which he / she is deprived of legal capacity. The child is represented by the other parent or guardian of the child who is obliged to respect the opinion of the parents referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article. 

(4) In case of disagreement between the child’s parents or the parents referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article and the child’s guardian regarding the child’s representation in relation to decisions relevant to the child referred to in Article 108 of this Act, the court shall in non-contentious proceedings make a decision to determine who will represent the child in the matter. 

(5) As an exception to the provisions of paragraph 3 of this Article, a minor parent may assign a personal name to a child. 

(6) The suspension of the exercise of parental care due to legal obstacles shall cease when the reasons for which the suspension of exercise of parental care was introduced cease to exist.


Prerequisites for appointing a guardian to a child

Article 224

A child shall be placed under guardianship if its parents: 

  1. died, disappeared, are unknown or have been of unknown residence for at least one month 
  2. are deprived of the right to parental care 
  3. are deprived of legal capacity in the part that prevents them from exercising parental care 
  4. are minors, and have not acquired legal capacity by marriage 
  5. are absent or prevented and unable to take care of their child, and have not entrusted the exercise of parental care to a person who meets the conditions for a guardian or 
  6. gave consent for the adoption of the child.


Realization of personal relations between the child and the parents 

Article 119

(1) A child has the right to have personal relations with a parent with whom he or she does not live, and a parent who does not live with a child has the right and duty to have personal relations with the child, regardless of his or her right to parental care. 

(2) Parents and other persons living with the child and caring for the child are obliged to enable the child to have personal relations with the parent referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article and to refrain from any behaviour that would hinder personal relations with the child. 

(3) The parent referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article shall not have the right to establish personal relations with the child only if this is prohibited by a court decision.


Prohibition of adoption of a child of minor parents

Article 183 

(1) A child of minor parents may not be adopted. 

(2) Exceptionally, a child of minor parents may be adopted after one year from the birth of the child if there is no prospect that it will be raised in the family of the parents or grandparents or other close relatives. 

(3) The adoption referred to in paragraph 2 of this Article requires the consent of minor parents 

  1. Consent to adoption and consent procedure

Consent of the child’s parents 

Article 188 

(1) The consent of the child’s parents is required for adoption, unless otherwise provided by this Act. 

(2) When consent to adoption is given by a minor parent or a parent deprived of legal capacity, regardless of the part in which he / she is deprived of legal capacity, they must be able to understand the meaning of consent to adoption, and the Social Welfare Centre shall inform them in an appropriate manner on legal and factual consequences of child adoption. 

(3) If a parent deprived of legal capacity is unable to understand the meaning of consent to adoption in accordance with paragraph 2 of this Article, his / her consent may be replaced by a court decision in accordance with Article 190, paragraph 1, item 3 of this Act. 

(4) A parent may give consent for his / her child to be adopted by an adoptive parent known to him / her only if the child is adopted by the spouse or common-law partner of the child’s parent. 

(5) The consent of the parents is not obligatory if the parent: 

  1. died, disappeared or is unknown or 
  2. is deprived of the right to parental care. 

(6) The parent may withdraw the consent to the adoption within thirty days from the signing of the minutes on the consent to adoption.


Accommodation for underage pregnant women

Accommodation for underage pregnant women

Vesna Šugar

Vesna Šugar


Regards, I am 15 years old and I am 9 weeks pregnant with a boyfriend who is 18 years old. I am not going to school at the moment, because they gave me a ban due to pregnancy. Prior to that, I regularly attended the 8th grade. There are constant quarrels at home, my mother does not support me in pregnancy at all. I can never talk to her because she does not want to listen to me, or she does not care what I say. 

I talked to a social worker. She did not help me at all. She talks to my mother all the time. She did not tell me what to do, how to proceed and acted as if I did not exist. I do not know who else to turn to, I am interested in what rights I have. Is there any accommodation for underage pregnant women or something similar?

Dear future mother, 

accommodation for underage pregnant women can be realized in the Maternity Home, within the Children’s Home Zagreb, in the Caritas House in Zagreb, a foster family or in another house in Croatia, but accommodation should be agreed in advance with the competent Social Welfare Centre, according to your place of residence. Since each situation is different, it should be resolved individually, so contact your Centre – the team for family and youth or call our counselling centre – Parents’ Association “Step by Step”, at 01 / 48-555-78 

Do not worry; we will solve everything gradually and together. 

Kind regards.

They are forcing us to an abortion

They are forcing us to an abortion

Bojan Krsnik

Bojan Krsnik

social work graduate

Greetings. I am 18 years old and my 15-year-old girlfriend has become pregnant. I am still finishing school right now and looking for a job, but I will have achieved all of that before she gives birth. She is currently in the 7th week of her pregnancy and is not visiting her parents. There are constant quarrels, her mother wants an abortion at all costs, and we do not want one. We want that child, and we cannot explain to her what we want because she does not want to listen. I wonder what our rights are and whether someone else can make the decision on abortion instead of my girlfriend. I am interested in whether the Social Welfare Centre can report me. Please advise what to do next, which steps to take. Girlfriend’s mother wants to put her into a juvenile correctional facility and does not want to take any responsibility and tells her and me that we are irresponsible and incapable of raising a child. I am interested in our rights. Thank you in advance.

Your girlfriend is in the care of her parents until she is 18 or until she gains legal capacity through marriage. This means that if she moves in with you without the permission of her parents, who are legally obliged to take care of her, she is actually causing problems for herself, and at the same time, you run the risk of her parents reporting you to the authorities. What you can do is go to the competent Social Welfare Centre together, explain the situation you are in, especially if the girl is threatened to have an abortion, and then the Centre will find temporary accommodation for your girlfriend. Unfortunately, even though you are of legal age, you cannot take care of yourself, her and a child who requires financial expenses, so it is best to support your girlfriend in going to the Social Care Centre. You do not have to be afraid of the Centre because it serves to help people at risk and need and it is especially important to involve the Centre in further decisions in order to avoid violation of applicable legal norms and thus make the entire situation even more complicated and difficult.