In this article, you can find information, legislation and procedure if you want to take a divorce following the official process that applies in Greece. Read this article to learn everything you need to know if you want to request a divorce in Greece.
You can file a divorce petition before Greek courts provided that:
- You are a recognized refugee (Greek courts cannot issue a divorce if your asylum application is still pending). If you are a beneficiary of subsidiary protection, additional proof might be required, therefore, depending on your case, you are encouraged to seek specialized advice by a legal counselor.
- You and your spouse had your last common residence in Greece. Ιf your spouse was never residing in Greece, Greek courts might not be responsible for your case.
- If with your petition you also request the regulation of custody and alimony of children and your children live with you in Greece, then Greek courts are responsible for your case.
- Marriage must be valid according to Greek legislation. e.g., the marriage shall be official, polygamy is not legal in Greece etc.
The relevant legislation is complex, and there are many sub-categories. Therefore, a legal professional will examine your case and assess whether Greek courts are responsible.
Types of divorce
There are two kinds of divorce in Greece:
- Mutual consent divorce
- Contested divorce
In the first case, a notary public is responsible for the procedure and the court in the latter.
What are the prerequisites for mutual consent divorce, and how long does it take to be final?
Below are the prerequisites for the first type of divorce, the mutual consent divorce:
- Written agreement of the spouses.
- The agreement must be signed by the lawyers of each spouse.
- If you have children, the agreement must settle their custody, their place of residence, the communication with the other parent and their alimony.
- The agreement is submitted to a Notary public, who will issue the relevant notary act.
The agreement can be submitted to the Notary Public 10 days after signing. Therefore, the difficult and lengthy part might be settling the abovementioned issues (e.g., custody of the child) and putting the agreement in written form. Once the agreement is ready, the procedure might be completed within a month. Please note that every case is different, and the length of the procedure in practice depends also on the availability of all the parties involved (the spouses, lawyers, notary public) and the complexities of each particular case.
What are the prerequisites for a contested divorce, and how long does it take?
Below are the prerequisites for the second type of divorce, the contested divorce:
- Serious breakdown of marital relationship, e.g., in cases of domestic violence, digamy.
- If the spouses have been separated for at least two years.
- A lawyer must write and submit a lawsuit to the competent court. Please note that apart from the lawyer's payment, court fees should be paid. Once the lawsuit is filed, the court will set a date for the court. After that, you will have to wait for the court’s decision. Please note that both the trial date and the decision issuance might take several months. It is, therefore, impossible to define beforehand how long the issuance of the divorce will take. Also, each spouse can appeal against the court’s decision.
- Regarding the court's competency, please check the above (eligibility).
If a spouse wants to get a divorce, but the other party disagrees, can the former take the children and leave the house?
In order to avoid possible negative consequences in the future related to “abandonment of marital house,” it is advised to consult with a lawyer before leaving the house.
If your spouse is violent and there is danger for your security and/or the security of the children, you should first do whatever is needed to keep yourself and your children safe. Therefore, if there is no danger for either of you, consult a lawyer before leaving. On the other hand, if there is an urgent need to leave the house, try to get legal advice as soon as possible afterwards.
You can take legal action if your spouse does not agree to proceed with a divorce procedure. You have the right to submit an application to the court, which is called an application for interim measures, and possibly request the issuance of an order within a very short period of time if there is an urgent need for judicial protection. With this application, you can request the temporary regulation of custody of the children, alimony and protective measures, such as removing your spouse from the marital house, prohibiting your spouse from approaching you and/or your children, etc.
Can I get custody of my children?
The law provides that both parents keep custody of the children. However, if you both agree, you can decide with the above-written agreement that one of the parents will exercise custody. If it is impossible to agree with your spouse on that matter, you can start a mediation procedure (except for cases of domestic violence), and if a mutual agreement cannot be reached, the court may decide to allocate the exercise of parental responsibility between the parents or grant the custody of the children to one of the parents.
Do I have a right to ask for alimony for myself and/or my children?
If you do not have any income or property, you have the right to claim alimony from the other spouse under certain conditions provided by the law.
Both parents are obligated to support their minor children in accordance with their means and the needs of the children.
The amount will be agreed between the ex-spouses and if it is not possible, the court will decide.
Has the parent who does not reside with the child the right to contact them?
The parent with whom the child does not reside has the right and the obligation to communicate with the child. The visitation hours will be commonly agreed upon between ex-spouses; if that is not possible, the court will decide when and how the right to communication will be exercised.
Exclusion or restriction of communication is possible only for extremely serious reasons, particularly where the parent with whom the child does not reside is considered unfit to exercise the right of communication.
I do not have any documents to prove my marriage / I got married in another country.
Recognized refugees cannot contact the authorities of their country to request a marriage certificate, as this might put them in danger or jeopardize their legal status in Greece. Greek authorities, particularly the Asylum Service, are obligated to issue a certificate of marital status, according to the information you provided them during your interview.
As mentioned, it's essential to consult a qualified Greek family lawyer to understand your specific rights and obligations during the divorce process, as legal procedures and rights can vary depending on the circumstances of each case. For mutual consent and contested divorce, representation by a lawyer is obligatory.
- Filing a Petition: Your lawyer will file a divorce petition (Αίτηση Διαζυγίου) with the competent Court of First Instance (Πρωτοδικείο) in your area.
- Mediation: In some cases, the court may suggest mediation to try and reconcile differences between the spouses.
- Court Proceedings: If mediation fails or isn't applicable, the court will proceed with the divorce case. Both parties will present their arguments, and the court will decide on the divorce settlement, including custody, alimony, contact with the child and asset division, when requested.
- Divorce Decree: Once the court reaches a decision, a divorce decree (Δικαστική Απόφαση Διαζυγίου) will be issued, finalizing the divorce. The decision is final when it is not subject to appeal or revocation.
- Regarding your rights: Greek law aims to protect the interests of any children involved and ensure a fair division of assets. Custody and alimony decisions are made based on the children's best interests and the spouses' financial situation.