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Last update: 03-08-2007
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Divorce - Finland

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. What are the grounds for divorce? 1.
2. What are the conditions for granting a divorce? 2.
3. What are the legal effects of divorce? 3.
a) on spouses' personal relationship? a)
b) on the division of property between spouses? b)
c) on the spouses’ children under age 18? c)
d) on the spousal maintenance obligation? d)
4. What does the legal term “judicial separation” mean in practice? 4.
5. What are the preconditions for a judicial separation? 5.
6. What are the legal effects of a judicial separation? 6.
7. What does the legal term “marriage annulment” mean in practice? 7.
8. What are the grounds for a marriage annulment? 8.
9. What are the legal effects of a marriage annulment? 9.
10. What are the ways for resolving divorce issues outside of court? 10.
11. Where should the applications for divorce/judicial separation/annulment be submitted? What are the formalities and what documents should be enclosed with the application? 11.
12. Is legal aid available in this matter? 12.
13. Can the divorce/judicial separation/annulment judgment be appealed? 13.
14. What are the procedures for obtaining legal recognition of a divorce/judicial separation/annulment judgment in Finland, if the judgment was passed in another member state? 14.
15. Which court of justice should the case be referred to if one wants to appeal the recognition of a divorce/judicial separation/annulment judgment in Finland, if the judgment was passed in another member state? What are the procedures in these cases? 15.
16. Which law is applied when the spouses do not reside in Finland or if they are citizens of another country? 16.

 

1. What are the grounds for divorce?

The spouses have the right to divorce after a consideration period of six months from filing the application. Divorce can be granted without the consideration period if the spouses have been separated for the last two years before filing the divorce application.

2. What are the conditions for granting a divorce?

You are not required to list the reasons for divorce in the application. When hearing the divorce case, the District Court does not consider the spouses’ personal relationship or the reasons for divorce.

3. What are the legal effects of divorce?

a) on spouses' personal relationship?

After the divorce, the spouses keep the surnames they had during marriage. If a spouse changed his/her surname upon entering into marriage, he/she can apply for it to be changed after the divorce.

b) on the division of property between spouses?

As a main rule, upon the termination of marriage, the spouses’ property is divided equally. The spouses can agree on the division of property or it can be executed by an executor appointed by a court of justice. One exception to the main rule is a marriage settlement agreement, and the division can be adjusted if the outcome would otherwise be considered unreasonable. The spouses’ property can be divided during the consideration period, but no earlier.

c) on the spouses’ children under age 18?

The custody, living arrangements, maintenance and visiting rights for the spouses’ children can be settled when filing the divorce application. (See pages “Child Custody - Finland” and “Maintenance – Finland”)

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d) on the spousal maintenance obligation?

When granting a divorce, the court of justice can order one spouse to pay maintenance to the other if this is considered to be reasonable. (See page “Maintenance - Finland”)

4. What does the legal term “judicial separation” mean in practice?

Judicial separation is not recognized by the Finnish legal system.

5. What are the preconditions for a judicial separation?

See question 4.

6. What are the legal effects of a judicial separation?

See question 4.

7. What does the legal term “marriage annulment” mean in practice?

There are no provisions on marriage annulment in Finnish legislation. The public prosecutor must, however, bring a case for the spouses to be granted a divorce immediately should the spouses be close relatives or if one of the spouses was already legally married at the time of entering into marriage.

8. What are the grounds for a marriage annulment?

See question 7.

9. What are the legal effects of a marriage annulment?

See question 7.

10. What are the ways for resolving divorce issues outside of court?

Divorce papers are always filed at a District Court. However, according to the law, the parties should first try to resolve family disputes by negotiating and trying to reach agreements; to do so, spouses can request assistance from the family mediators of the social welfare board. The District Court is also obliged to inform the spouses of the possibility of mediation. The mediator will try to help the spouses reach a mutual understanding on how family disputes can be resolved in the most satisfactory way for all family members. The mediator will assist in drawing up agreements and in other procedures for resolving the dispute. He/she must especially consider the security of the minors in the family. Mediation is always voluntary.

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11. Where should the applications for divorce/judicial separation/annulment be submitted? What are the formalities and what documents should be enclosed with the application?

Both spouses can file for divorce jointly, or one of the spouses can file individually. Divorce papers are filed at the District Court corresponding to the domicile of one of the spouses. The application can be submitted to the District Court in person or by an authorized representative. It can also be sent by post, fax or e-mail.

The six-month consideration period begins upon submitting the divorce application to the District Court. If a spouse files for divorce individually, the consideration period begins when the other spouse is notified of the application. The District Court is responsible for informing the other spouse. After the consideration period, the final divorce application must be filed within six months. If the final divorce application is not filed, the divorce case is dismissed.

Usually it is not necessary to enclose any additional documents with the application. If divorce is applied for on the basis of a two-year separation, an explanation of the judicial separation must be enclosed with the application.

12. Is legal aid available in this matter?

Legal aid is available in divorce cases. (See page ”Legal aid - Finland”)

13. Can the divorce/judicial separation/annulment judgment be appealed?

A divorce judgment can be appealed in the Court of Appeal.

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14. What are the procedures for obtaining legal recognition of a divorce/judicial separation/annulment judgment in Finland, if the judgment was passed in another member state?

As a rule, Council Regulation (EC) No 1347/2000 is applied, recognizing a divorce judgment in Finland if the judgment was passed in another Member State. (See page “Divorce – Community Law”)

According to the regulation, a divorce judgment passed in a Member State is recognised by other Member States immediately, without any special procedures. However, any person whose interests are affected by the divorce judgment may apply for a decision that the judgment be or not be recognised.

The application for confirmation is filed at the District Court. The court with territorial jurisdiction is the court whose judicial district includes the domicile of one of the spouses. If neither of the spouses has a domicile in Finland, the case is handled by Helsinki District Court.

However, in the case of divorces filed in Nordic countries, the Nordic Marriage Convention of 1931 is applied. In terms of the European Union Member States, Finland, Sweden and Denmark are parties to this Convention. A divorce judgment passed in accordance with the Nordic Marriage Convention is valid in all Nordic countries without any separate confirmation.

15. Which court of justice should the case be referred to if one wants to appeal the recognition of a divorce/judicial separation/annulment judgment in Finland, if the judgment was passed in another member state? What are the procedures in these cases?

Same procedure as that outlined in question 14.

16. Which law is applied when the spouses do not reside in Finland or if they are citizens of another country?

Finnish law is applied to all divorce cases that are filed in Finland.

Further information

« Divorce - General information | Finland - General information »

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Last update: 03-08-2007

 
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