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Parenthood, foster care, guardianship and adoption

Parents have the right and duty to take care of their children and, in accordance with their abilities, to provide conditions for their comprehensive development. In accordance with the Constitution, children who no longer have parents or whose parents cannot take care of them for whatever reason enjoy the special protection of the State. Alternative care is provided for such children in an environment in which, to the greatest extent possible, they can gain an important experience of family life.

The child’s best interests are the primary concern

Parents have priority over all other persons when it comes to the right and obligation to protect the rights and best interests of their children. They are responsible for their children’s life and health, for their care and upbringing, and for their supervision and education. Parents also have the right and obligation to represent and provide for their children and manage their assets. Parents are obliged to provide their children with conditions for healthy growth and balanced personal development and prepare them for independent life and work.

If parents fail to exercise the aforementioned rights or carry out the aforementioned obligations, or if they fail to exercise and carry out such in the best interests of the child, the court and a social work centre intervene in the parents’ parental responsibility in order to protect the child. In such cases, the court and the social work centre are obliged to carry out the necessary actions and measures for the upbringing and care of the child and for the protection of the child’s property rights and other rights and interests. Such measures are taken with the exclusive purpose of protecting the child and not with the purpose of punishing the parents for their actions. Measures to protect the child’s best interests take the form of interim injunctions, the emergency removal of a child and measures of a more permanent nature.

If parents do not live or will no longer be living together, they must agree on the care and upbringing of their children, the contacts of the children with their parents, and the amount of maintenance. If the parents cannot reach an agreement on these issues, a social work centre or, at their request, a mediator, will help them to reach an agreement. If after this the parents still fail to reach an agreement, the matter will be decided by a court.

Sometimes parents fail to comply with what has been agreed upon. In such cases, various methods are employed to ensure that the child’s best interests are protected to the best extent possible. If the respondent fails to pay maintenance, the child may exercise the right to maintenance compensation with the Public Scholarship, Development, Disability and Maintenance Fund of the Republic of Slovenia. We also provide assistance regarding the recovery abroad of maintenance payments and take action in cases when one of the parents removes the child from the country without the consent of the other parent.


In deciding on the type of custody, account is taken of the needs and interests of the ward. One such custody type is guardianship for children, whereby the guardian carries out most of the obligations and exercises most of the rights arising from parental responsibility and is accordingly responsible for the care and upbringing of the child, managing the child’s assets, and representing the child in personal and property-related matters. However, the guardian is not obliged to maintain their ward or take the ward into their home. Another type of custody is guardianship for special cases, whereby the guardian is appointed to perform specific tasks or is appointed in cases where a conflict of interests arises between the child and the child’s parents.

Guardianship may also be employed for adults who are not capable of looking after themselves or defending their rights and interests or for adults who do not have the possibility to defend their rights and interests. A guardian for special cases may not be appointed only for children but also for adult persons, in which case the guardian represents the ward in the performance of particular tasks or legal transactions. 

Alternative care of children

Various forms of alternative care are provided for children as appropriate, i.e. foster care, institutional care and adoption.

Foster care is a form of custody for children under family law whereby a child is placed with another family where other persons who are not the child’s parents take care of the child. Foster care is not only about finding a substitute family for such children, but also involves responsibility to find the child a family in which he or she can gain an important experience of family life. At the same time, efforts are made to eliminate the causes for placing the child in foster care and to return the child to the home environment.

In order to provide protection to children who need foster families, we need to continuously ensure a sufficient number of qualified foster families and be actively involved in the positive promotion of foster care.

Adoption is always a case-by-case situation in which the guiding principle is to find the most suitable substitute parents for the child and not vice versa. Therefore the waiting time for potential adopters varies considerably. In the Republic of Slovenia, the legislation provides only for full adoption, whereby a child is completely excluded from the family of the birth parents. Upon adoption, the rights and obligations of the adoptee to their parents and other relatives and the rights and obligations of parents and relatives to the adoptee cease. The relations between the adoptee and their descendants, and the adopter and their relatives are considered to be relations between relatives.

Since in Slovenia the number of candidates to adopt is greater than the number of children waiting for adoption, there has been a growing trend to file for adoption abroad.

Granting parental responsibility to a relative

A court may grant parental responsibility for a child whose parents are dead to a relative who is prepared to assume custody of the child and fulfils the conditions for adoption of the child but cannot adopt due to other statutory restrictions or does not decide to adopt. The person who is granted parental responsibility for a child has all the rights and obligations that the child’s parents would have had. This arrangement allows the child to live with relatives if this is in the child’s best interests.

Advance expression of will by parents

Parents have the possibility of expressing their will in advance about the person to whom their child should be entrusted for care and upbringing if they die or are not able to care for the child for an extended period. Such a person may be a relative to whom parental responsibility should be granted, an adopter or a guardian. The validity of an advance expression of will by parents is assessed in the same way as the validity of a will. The court takes into account the advance expression of will if this is not counter to the best interests of the child.