Greece is similar to many European countries in that it offers two types of divorce: through mutual consent and through a contested procedure. Here we discuss divorce in Greece, the child custody laws in Greece following divorce, and how your assets will be divided after you divorce.
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Divorce laws and grounds for divorce in Greece
There are two types of divorce in Greece:
- Mutual consent
- Contested divorce.
If you agree to end your marriage, and you have been married a year or longer, you can file a joint divorce petition.
When you divorce by mutual consent you must provide a written agreement concerning arrangements for your children (both custody and how you will communicate with the other parent). You can also include arrangements for child maintenance in this agreement if you wish. The court will ratify your agreement, and this judgement is enforceable.
This method of divorce avoids long court proceedings and can be concluded relatively easily. However, if you married at a Greek Orthodox church you will need an extra procedure in order to dissolve the marriage spiritually.
If you can’t agree on your divorce, you must go through a contested process. Here, one of you will petition for divorce stating certain grounds. You will have to show that your marriage has broken down to the point where continuing to be married would be intolerable to you.
Grounds for divorce in Greece include:
- Adultery or bigamy
- An attempt on your life by the other spouse
- Separation for more than 4 years
- The other spouse is declared missing or presumed dead.
Child custody arrangements following divorce in Greece
As noted above, if you agree to a mutual consent divorce you must provide a written agreement to the court regarding the custody and contact arrangements for your children. This agreement regulates your child’s custody and contact arrangements.
If you can’t agree, the court will make a decision regarding custody and contact.
According to Greek law, you and the other parent have joint custody of your child while you’re married. This custody gives you rights and responsibilities including caring for your child, making decisions regarding their education and healthcare, and representing them in any matter.
When you divorce in Greece, both parents retain this joint custody. However, the court will regulate the ‘physical custody’ of the child. The most common outcome is that physical custody is assigned to the one parent the court deems most suitable.
However, if you agree to the residence of your child, the court can maintain joint custody. The court will consider your child’s best interests when making an order.
If you’re the non-resident parent, then the law in Greece provides for the right to contact. Contact cannot be denied unless your child’s welfare is at risk, and the specific amount of contact will be determined by your personal circumstances.
If you’re divorced you still have an obligation to support your child, and so you will be expected to pay child support.
Greece is a signatory to the Hague Convention on Child Abduction and is also a party to the Brussels IIa regulations.
This means that if your child is taken out of Greece without your consent, or taken from another Convention country to Greece without your permission, then you can apply to the authorities for your child to be safely and quickly returned to you.
Financial settlement after divorce in Greece
If you didn’t sign a pre-nuptial agreement, the standard system of dividing assets on divorce in Greece is that of ‘separation of assets’. This means that any property or assets that you acquired before or after your marriage remain separate, and only assets you acquired while married will be divided on divorce.
The exception to this is any property that you acquired through inheritance, gift, or through the disposal of such a gift or inheritance.
You are also entitled to keep any ‘movable property’ which belongs to you.
In terms of your marital property, joint ownership is ended by the divorce. You will receive a split of this asset based on what you are entitled to under the rules on joint ownership and the distribution of common property.
After divorce, if you cannot maintain yourself from your own income or assets you are entitled to claim maintenance from the other spouse if:
- Based on your age and health you can’t be required to take up/continue in work in order to support yourself
- You care for a minor child and therefore can’t work
- You can’t find appropriate work, or you need vocational training. In this case support will last no more than three years from the date of your divorce
- There is any other reason why a maintenance award is necessary on equitable grounds.
A court may deny support for certain reasons; for example, if the marriage has lasted a short time, the spouse who might be entitled to maintenance is to blame for the divorce, or the applicant has voluntarily brought about his or her own poverty.
Any entitlement that you have to support will end if you remarry, cohabit, or die.
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