Divorce in Lithuania can be a straightforward process if both of you agree to the divorce as well as the arrangements for child custody and splitting your finances. If you don’t agree, then you may will have to go through a judicial process which can result in the person at fault for the end of your marriage losing any right to maintenance. So how does divorce work with regards to Lithuania? What are the grounds for divorce? How are child custody and support issues decided? And how will your assets be split? Here we discuss these issues and more.
Divorce laws in Lithuania – 3 types of divorce
There are three types of divorce in Lithuania:
- Divorce by mutual consent
- Divorce by application of one spouse
- ‘Fault’ divorce.
Divorce by mutual consent
If you both agree to the divorce then you can end your marriage by mutual consent. To do this you must satisfy the following three conditions:
- you must both have full legal capacity
- you must have been married for at least one year
- you must have a written agreement in respect of the consequences of your divorce (this includes the division of assets, and child issues such as custody, contact and support).
Divorce by application of one spouse
One spouse can apply to the district court (apylinkės teismas) for a divorce as long as you can meet one or more of the following conditions:
- you have been separated for at least one year
- one of you has been declared legally incapacitated by the court after you married
- one spouse has been declared missing by a court
- one spouse is serving a prison sentence of over one year for committing a non-premeditated crime.
If you can show that the actions of your spouse under the Lithuanian Civil Code (Civilinis kodeksas) have resulted in the continuation of married life being intolerable, then you can get a divorce using a ‘fault’ ground.
A marriage will be considered as irretrievably broken down through the fault of your spouse where they have:
- committed adultery
- been convicted of a premeditated crime
- been violent towards you or other family members
- deserted the family for over a year.
The respondent in the divorce proceedings can dispute their ‘fault’ and put forward evidence that the other party is responsible for the end of your marriage. Having heard the evidence, the court may decide that you are both at fault, and in this instance the consequences are the same as if your marriage had ended by mutual consent.
Child custody, contact and access arrangements following divorce
If you divorce by mutual consent, you will have to provide a written agreement relating to child custody, contact and support before your divorce will be granted.
If you can’t agree, issues relating to your child such as residence, access and child maintenance will be decided by the court. Any decision will be made in your child’s best interests, and their wishes and feelings will be taken into account.
Residence is normally determined by a residence order awarded in favour of one of the parents. The non-resident parent will typically have a right to contact, and the parent with residence may not interfere with the other parent’s contact or involvement in the child’s education.
In Lithuania, parents are obliged to maintain their children. If you can’t agree child support between you based on the needs of your child and the financial situation of the parents, the court can issue a maintenance order.
Lithuania is a signatory to the Hague Convention on Child Abduction and is also party to the Brussels IIa regulations. If your child is taken out of Lithuania to another EU or Hague Convention country without your consent, you can apply to the relevant authorities for assistance in ensuring the swift and safe return of your child. This also applies if your child is taken to Lithuania from your normal country of residence.
How property is split, and maintenance decided on divorce in Lithuania
If you divorce by mutual consent, then all issues relating the division of your assets need to be outlined in a written contact before your divorce will be granted.
If the divorce was applied for by one spouse or on the basis of fault, then the court must resolve matters relating to your property. Joint ownership rights end on divorce and the court will presume that shares in any ‘community property’ are equal and your assets will be divided accordingly, except for cases provided for in the Civil Code.
If one of you owns the marital home, then the court may make an order allowing the other spouse to live in the property if your children live with them. This order is normally valid until your children reach majority.
In terms of maintenance, the court can make a maintenance order in favour of the spouse who needs maintenance, unless they have sufficient income/assets to support themselves. Maintenance will generally be considered necessary if the spouse is raising your children or cannot work due to their age or health.
Factors the court will consider when deciding on a maintenance order include:
- how long you were married
- the need for maintenance
- your assets, income and capacity for employment
- your age and health.
Any maintenance amount will be reduced, made temporary or refused if one of the following circumstances exists:
- you were married for less than a year
- the spouse entitled to maintenance has committed a crime against the other spouse or their next of kin
- the spouse entitled to maintenance has created their own financial problems through irresponsible acts
- the spouse entitled to maintenance did not contribute to the growth of your community property.
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