European Commission > EJN > Divorce > Lithuania

Last update: 30-05-2007
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Divorce - Lithuania

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. What are the conditions for obtaining a divorce? 1.
2. What are the grounds for divorce? 2.
3. What are the consequences of a divorce as regards: 3.
a) the personal relations between the spouses? a)
b) the division of property of the spouses? b)
c) the minor children of the spouses? (See “Parental responsibility – Lithuania”) c)
d) the obligation to pay maintenance to the other spouse? (See “Maintenance Claims – Lithuania” d)
4. What does the legal term “legal separation” mean in practical terms? 4.
5. What are the conditions for legal separation 5.
6. What are the legal consequences of legal separation? 6.
7. What does the term “marriage annulment” mean in practice? 7.
8. What are the conditions for marriage annulment 8.
9. What are the legal consequences of marriage annulment 9.
10. Are there alternative non-judicial means for solving issues relating to the divorce without going to court? 10.
11. Where should I lodge my application for divorce/legal separation/marriage annulment? Which formalities must be respected and which documents should I attach to my application? 11.
12. Can I obtain legal aid to cover the costs of the procedure 12.
13. Is it possible to appeal against a decision relating to divorce/legal separation/marriage annulment? 13.
14. What should I do to have a decision on divorce/legal separation/marriage annulment issued by a court in another Member State country recognised in Lithuania ? 14.
15. To which court should I turn in Lithuania to oppose the recognition of a decision on divorce/legal separation/marriage annulment issued by a court in another Member State? Which procedure applies in these cases? 15.
16. Which is the applicable law in a divorce proceeding between spouses who do not live in Lithuania or who are of different nationalities? 16.

 

1. What are the conditions for obtaining a divorce?

Three types of divorce exist in Lithuanian family law:

  1. Divorce by the mutual consent of the spouses.

    In this case the following conditions have been satisfied:

    • over a year has elapsed from the commencement of the marriage;
    • the spouses have made a contract in respect of the consequences of their divorce (property adjustment, maintenance payments for the children, etc.);
    • both the spouses have full active legal capacity.
  2. Divorce on the application of one of the spouses.

    At least one of the following conditions may be satisfied:

    • the spouses have been separated for over a year;
    • after the formation of the marriage one of the spouses has been declared legally incapacitated by the court;
    • one of the spouses has been declared missing by the court;
    • one of the spouses has been serving a term of imprisonment for over a year for the commission of a non-premeditated crime.

    On behalf of the legally incapable spouse the application for divorce may be filed by his/her guardian, a public prosecutor or a guardianship and care institution.

  3. Divorce through the fault of a spouse (spouses).

    The fault of a spouse for the breakdown of the marriage shall be established if he/she has seriously breached the duties under Civil Code hereof, which is the reason why their matrimonial life has become impossible.

    A marriage shall be presumed to have broken down through the fault of the other spouse where he/she:

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    • has been convicted of a pre-meditated crime;
    • has committed adultery;
    • has been violent toward the other spouse or the other members of the family;
    • has deserted the family and has not been caring for it for over a year.

    The respondent in a divorce suit may argue against his/her fault and adduce facts to prove that the other spouse is at fault for the breakdown of the marriage.

2. What are the grounds for divorce?

See question 1.

3. What are the consequences of a divorce as regards:

a) the personal relations between the spouses?

On divorce, a spouse may retain his or her married surname or the surname he or she had before the marriage. Where a marriage is dissolved on the basis of the fault of one of the spouses, the court may, at the request of the other spouse, prohibit the spouse at fault from retaining his or her married surname, except in cases where the spouses have children.

b) the division of property of the spouses?

Joint co-ownership rights of the spouses shall end on divorce. If a marriage is dissolved by the mutual consent of the spouses, the questions of property adjustment shall have to be solve in a contract in respect of the consequences of their divorce. If a marriage is dissolved by the application of one of the spouses or by on the bases of the fault of one or both of the spouses, in granting a divorce the court must resolve matters relating to the adjustment of the community property of the spouses, except in cases where the property has been adjusted by the mutual agreement of the spouses certified in the notarial procedure.

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Legal consequences of divorce to the property interests of the spouses shall be produced from the moment of the commencement of divorce proceedings. A spouse other than the one determined to be at fault for the breakdown of the marriage may ask the court to rule that the legal consequences of divorce to the interests of the spouses shall be produced from the day of their actual separation.

Where the matrimonial dwelling is owned by one of the spouses, the court may make a usufruct order and allow the other spouse to remain in the matrimonial dwelling if their minor children live with him or her. The usufruct order shall be valid until the child (children) attain majority.

c) the minor children of the spouses? (See “Parental responsibility – Lithuania”)
d) the obligation to pay maintenance to the other spouse? (See “Maintenance Claims – Lithuania”

The court shall make a maintenance order in favour of the spouse in need of maintenance unless the matters of maintenance are settled in the agreement of the spouses concerning the consequences of divorce. A spouse shall have no right to maintenance if his/her assets or income are sufficient to fully support him/her. Maintenance shall be presumed to be necessary if he/she is bringing up a minor child of the marriage or is incapacitated for employment because of his/her age or state of health. A spouse that was not able to obtain any qualifications for work (complete his or her studies) because of the marriage, common interests of the family or the need to care for the children, shall have a right to demand from the former spouse to cover the costs related to the completion of his/her studies or retraining.

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The spouse responsible for the breakdown of the marriage shall have no right to be maintained.

While deciding on amount of maintenance, the court shall take into account the duration of the marriage, the need for maintenance, the assets owned by the former spouses, their state of health, age, capacity for employment, possibility of the unemployed spouse of finding employment and other important circumstances. The amount shall be reduced, made temporary or refused if one of the following circumstances exists:

  • the marriage lasted for a period not exceeding a year;
  • the spouse entitled to maintenance has committed a crime against the other spouse or his/her next of kin;
  • the spouse entitled to maintenance has created his/her difficult financial situation through his/her own irresponsible acts;
  • the spouse requesting maintenance did not contribute to the growth of their community assets or wilfully prejudiced the interests of the other spouse or the family during the marriage.

The court may make maintenance orders for a lump sum or periodical (monthly) payments or property adjustment. Where the maintenance order is for periodical payments, a significant change in the circumstances may warrant the application of either of the former spouses for an increase, reduction or termination of maintenance payments.

Where divorce is based on the application of one of the spouses because of the legal incompetence of the other spouse, the applicant spouse must cover the treatment and care expenses of the former incompetent spouse unless the expenses are covered from state social security funds. If the former spouse defaults on his/her obligation to pay maintenance, his/her assets may be used to make payments.

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After the death of the spouse obliged to pay maintenance, the obligation to pay maintenance is devolved on his/her successors to the extent of his/her estate irrespective of the way the estate is accepted. Where the payee dies or remarries, the maintenance payment shall be terminated. On the payee’s death, the right to demand arrears of the maintenance payments shall pass to the payee’s successors.

4. What does the legal term “legal separation” mean in practical terms?

Legal separation is some form of family reorganisation when some legal family relationship between spouses shall end and some of them shall live on. Practically legal separation is the first step to the divorce. It does not mean that spouses can not start to live together again. Contrary to the case of separation, in case of divorce all legal family relationship between spouses is ended. In case of separation spouses can not contract other marriage because formally spouses are in marriage.

5. What are the conditions for legal separation

One of the spouses may apply to the court for the approval of the separation if due to certain circumstances, which may not depend on the other spouse, their life together has become intolerable (impossible) or can seriously prejudice the interests of their minor children or the spouses are no longer interested in living together. Both spouses may jointly apply to the court for the approval of their separation if they have made a contract concerning the consequences of their separation providing for the residence, maintenance and education of their minor children as well as for the adjustment of their property and mutual maintenance.

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6. What are the legal consequences of legal separation?

(E.g. can it be converted into divorce, it is a necessary precondition to obtain a divorce?)

When the court makes a separation judgement, it releases the spouses from the obligation to live together, but the other rights and duties of the spouses shall not be extinguished. Separation shall not produce any effects on the rights and duties in respect of their minor children. If one of the separated spouses dies, the survivor shall retain all the rights of a surviving spouse under the law. The same rule shall apply where the court makes a separation order on the basis of the joint application of the spouses unless the marriage contract of the spouses stipulates otherwise. The surviving spouse, however, shall lose the right of succession to the estate of the deceased spouse.

A separation shall end when:

  • the spouses start living together again and prove their intention to live together permanently;
  • on the joint application of the spouses, the court makes a judgement to end the separation, which revokes its former separation order.

The end of separation shall produce effects for third parties only if the spouses make a new marriage contract and register it. Where the spouses are separated for more than a year after the date when the court judgement became res judicata, either spouse may seek divorce on the aforementioned basis (1.2).

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

It does mean that persons have possibility after marriage annulment to contract another marriage or register partnership.

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8. What are the conditions for marriage annulment

The grounds and procedures for declaring Marriage Null and Void are provided in the Article 3. 37 of the Civil Code. A marriage may be declared null and void if the conditions for the formation of a valid marriage set out in Articles 3. 12 to 3. 17 hereof have been violated as well as on the grounds provided for in paragraph 3 Article 3. 21, Articles 3. 39 and 3. 40 hereof. A marriage may be annulled only by the court. A marriage that the court declares to be null and void shall be void ab initio.

9. What are the legal consequences of marriage annulment

Any children born of a marriage subsequently decreed void by the court shall be treated as born within marriage.

Where both the spouses were in good faith, i.e. did not and could not know about the impediments to their marriage, the legal consequences of their marriage, although it has been declared null and void, shall be the same as those of a valid marriage except for the right of succession.

Where one or both spouses were in bad faith, with a null and void marriage where only one of the parties was in good faith, the party in good faith shall be entitled to all the rights a spouse is entitled to by virtue of a valid marriage.

With a null and void marriage where both the parties were in bad faith, they lose all the rights and duties spouses have by virtue of a valid marriage. Each of them shall have a right to recover their own property.

10. Are there alternative non-judicial means for solving issues relating to the divorce without going to court?

There are not in Lithuania alternative non-judicial means for solving issues relating to the divorce without going to court.

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11. Where should I lodge my application for divorce/legal separation/marriage annulment? Which formalities must be respected and which documents should I attach to my application?

If a marriage is dissolved by the mutual consent of the spouses, a mutual application shall be presented to the court of the district where one of the spouses resides. The application must be accompanied by:

  • the contract as to the consequences of the divorce;
  • reasons why their marriage has broken down.

If a marriage is dissolved by the application of one of the spouses, the application shall be represented to the court of the district where the applicant resides. The application must contain:

  • the indication of one of the grounds for divorce;
  • the indication how the applicant intends to perform his or her obligations toward the other spouse and their minor children;
  • the data provided for in the Code of Civil Procedure.

If a marriage is dissolved by on the bases of the fault of one or both of the spouses, the application of one of the spouses shall be represented to the court of the district where the defendant resides.

The application for legal separation shall be represented to the court of the district where the defendant resides.

The application for marriage annulment shall be represented to the court of the district where the defendant or one of defendants resides.

The requirements for the application are provided in the Civil Procedure Code (the Article 382).

12. Can I obtain legal aid to cover the costs of the procedure

It is possible to obtain legal aid according to Law on legal aid (Law on legal aid guaranteed by the State). It is possibility to get legal aid depends on financial state of person.

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13. Is it possible to appeal against a decision relating to divorce/legal separation/marriage annulment?

It is possible.

14. What should I do to have a decision on divorce/legal separation/marriage annulment issued by a court in another Member State country recognised in Lithuania ?

The recognition of decisions of foreign court is regulated under Civil Procedure Code. The application for recognition of foreign court decision shall be presented to the Appeal court of Lithuania. A party seeking for recognition shall produce:

  • the judgement,
  • translation of the judgement into Lithuanian,
  • confirmation that the decision has come into force,
  • evidentiary material that the party in default was duly informed about the place and time of the hearing of the case.

15. To which court should I turn in Lithuania to oppose the recognition of a decision on divorce/legal separation/marriage annulment issued by a court in another Member State? Which procedure applies in these cases?

The complaint shall be presented to the Supreme Court of Lithuania. This complaint shall be examined under the cassation procedure regulated under Civil Procedure Code.

16. Which is the applicable law in a divorce proceeding between spouses who do not live in Lithuania or who are of different nationalities?

Separation and dissolution of marriage shall be governed by the law of the spouses’ state of domicile, or in the case the latter is not indicated by the law of the state of their last common domicile, or failing that, by the law of the state where the case is tried. If the law of the state of common citizenship of the spouses does not permit a dissolution of marriage or imposes special conditions for dissolution, the dissolution of marriage may be performed in accordance with the law of the Republic of Lithuania if one of the spouses is also a Lithuanian citizen or is domiciled in the Republic of Lithuania.

The courts of the Republic of Lithuania shall have jurisdiction over actions of annulment, dissolution of marriage or separation in the cases provided for by the Code of Civil Procedure of the Republic of Lithuania.

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Last update: 30-05-2007

 
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