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Last update: 02-05-2005
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Maintenance claims - Greece

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. What do the concepts “maintenance” and “maintenance obligation” cover according to the law of Greece? 1.
2. Up to what age can a child benefit from a maintenance allowance? 2.
3. In which cases is the law of Greece applicable? 3.
4. If this law is not applicable, which law will the courts of Greece apply? 4.
5. Should the applicant apply to a specific organization or government department (central or local) or a court to obtain maintenance? 5.
6. Can a request be made on behalf of a relative, a close relation, or a child under age? 6.
7. If the applicant plans to bring the case to court, how does he/she know what court has jurisdiction? 7.
8. Does the applicant have to go through an intermediary to bring the case to court (e.g. a lawyer, specific organization or government department (central or local) etc.) ? If not, which procedures? 8.
9. Does the applicant have to pay fees to bring a case to court? If so, how much are they likely to be? If the financial means of the plaintiff are insufficient, can he/she obtain legal aid to cover the costs of the procedure? 9.
10. What kind of maintenance is likely to be granted by the court? If an allowance is granted how will it be assessed? Can the court’s decision be revised to take account of changes in the costs of living or family circumstances? 10.
11. How and to whom will the maintenance be paid? 11.
12. If the maintenance debtor doesn’t pay voluntarily, what action can be taken in order to force him/her to pay? 12.
13. Is there an organization or government department (central or local) which can help me to recover maintenance? 13.
14. Can they replace the debtor and pay the maintenance themselves or part of the maintenance in his or her place? 14.
15. Can the petitioner obtain the assistance of an organization or government department (central or local) in Greece? 15.
16. If so, how can that organization or government department (central or local) be contacted? 16.
17. What kind of assistance can the petitioner receive from this organization or government department (central or local) ? 17.
18. Can the petitioner address directly a request to an organization or government department (central or local) in Greece? 18.

 

1. What do the concepts “maintenance” and “maintenance obligation” cover according to the law of Greece?

  1. Maintenance is a payment in money or in kind given by one person to another to provide that other with the necessities of life.
  2. Maintenance is a family obligation: it applies between relatives, and falls under the branch of law known as the law of obligations; it is closely bound up with the way of life, dignity, and living conditions of the recipient.

Which persons have to pay maintenance:

parents to their children?

children to their parents?

a divorced person to their former spouse?

others?

In which cases?

The relatives under an obligation to provide maintenance are blood relatives in the direct line, brothers and sisters, and in the case of an adopted child the adoptive parents. The mother of a child born out of wedlock is entitled to maintenance from the father. Thus parents have an obligation to maintain their children, according to their means, whether they have parental responsibility or whether they have been deprived of it in whole or in part (as can happen in the event of a divorce, a separation or a failure to exercise parental responsibility properly, or upon application by the parent) ; children have an obligation to maintain their parents; grandchildren have an obligation to maintain their grandparents, if their own parents have died, and great-grandchildren have an obligation to maintain their great-grandparents if their own parents or grandparents have died; spouses or former spouses have an obligation to maintain one another; brothers and sisters have an obligation to maintain one another; and, as already mentioned, the father of a child born out of wedlock has an obligation to maintain the child’s mother. A maintenance obligation rests in the first place on descendants, in the order in which they would inherit on an intestacy, each in proportion to his or her portion. If there are no descendants, there is a maintenance obligation on the relatives immediately in the ascending line; and if there are more than one of them in the same degree of relationship, they are liable in equal measure. Where there is more than one person with a claim for maintenance against the same person, and the person liable is unable to provide maintenance for all of them, the descendants have priority, in the order in which they would inherit on an intestacy. If the several claimants are relatives in the ascending line, those in the closest degree of relationship have priority. The maintenance entitlement of spouses is treated on a par with that of descendants who are minors: they take precedence over other descendants and other relatives. The same applies to a divorced spouse who is entitled to maintenance.

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A person is entitled to maintenance only if they are unable to support themselves from their own property or from work appropriate to their age, their state of health and their living conditions generally, having regard among other things to any educational needs they may have; minors, even if they have property of their own, are entitled to maintenance from their parents in so far as the income from their own property or work is not sufficient to maintain them.

A person is not obliged to provide maintenance if especially in view of their other obligations they are not in a position to do so without jeopardising their own maintenance; this rule does not apply to the maintenance of a minor by a parent, unless the minor is entitled to be maintained by some other person, or can be supported from the minor’s own property.

A former spouse who cannot maintain himself or herself from his or her own income or property is entitled to claim maintenance from the other

  1. if at the time the divorce is pronounced the age or state of health of the spouse making the claim is such that he or she cannot be required to take up or continue to carry on a suitable occupation in order to support himself or herself;
  2. if the spouse making the claim has care of a minor, and is thereby prevented from carrying on a suitable occupation;
  3. if the spouse making the claim cannot find an appropriate regular employment, or needs vocational training; in either of these cases the entitlement lasts no more than three years from the time the divorce is pronounced; or
  4. in any other case where the award of maintenance at the time the divorce is pronounced is necessary on equitable grounds.

Maintenance may be denied or restricted for important reasons, especially if the marriage has lasted a short time, or if the spouse who might be entitled to maintenance is to blame for the divorce or has voluntarily brought about his or her own poverty.

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Entitlement to maintenance comes to an end if the person entitled remarries, or cohabits, or dies, except in respect of previous periods or instalments due at the time of death. Each of the former spouses is required to provide the other with accurate information regarding property and income in so far as they may be relevant to the amount of maintenance. Upon application by either of the former spouses, transmitted through the appropriate public prosecutor, any employer, administrative department or tax collector must supply any relevant information they may have on the property of the other spouse and in particular his or her income. The scale of maintenance is determined by reference to the needs of the person entitled, taking account of their living conditions; but if they have wronged the person liable in a manner that would justify their disinheritance, they are entitled only to a basic allowance covering what is absolutely necessary for subsistence.

2. Up to what age can a child benefit from a maintenance allowance?

Up to the age of 18 children are entitled to maintenance from their parents whether or not they have any income from property or work of their own; after that age, parents have an obligation to maintain their children if they are unable to maintain themselves from their own property or from work suitable to their age, their state of health and their living conditions generally, having regard among other things to any educational needs they may have.

3. In which cases is the law of Greece applicable?

A maintenance claim between spouses or former spouses is governed by the substantive law of Greece if their last common nationality during their marriage is that of Greece and at least one of them still holds it, or if their last joint habitual residence during their marriage is in Greece, or if the law with which they have the strongest links is that of Greece. A maintenance claim between parents and children, or between other descendants and relatives in the ascending line, is governed by the law of Greece if their last common nationality is that of Greece, or if their last joint habitual residence is in Greece, or if the child has Greek nationality. If the child was born outside his or her parents’ marriage, a maintenance claim between the child and the mother or father is governed by Greek law if their last common nationality is that of Greece or if their last joint residence is in Greece, or if the mother or father has Greek nationality. A maintenance claim between the mother of a child born out of wedlock and the child’s father is governed by Greek law if at the time of the pregnancy their last common nationality is that of Greece, or if their habitual or de facto residence is in Greece. Greek law applies notwithstanding the fact that any of the persons referred to above has both Greek nationality and a foreign nationality. Under Legislative Order No 4421/1964, Greek law likewise applies if the person liable is living in Greece and the person entitled is in one of the countries in which the New York Convention on the recovery abroad of maintenance is in force. The procedural law applicable is the procedural law of Greece, in accordance with the principle of the lex fori.

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4. If this law is not applicable, which law will the courts of Greece apply?

If the law of Greece is not applicable, the courts apply the following, in order of precedence:

  1. in the case of a maintenance claim between spouses or former spouses, the law of their common nationality during their marriage, provided that at least one of them still holds it, or the law of their last joint habitual residence during the marriage, or the law with which they have the strongest links;
  2. In the case of a maintenance claim between parents and children, the law of their last common nationality, or the law of their last joint habitual residence, or the law of the child’s nationality;
  3. in the case of a maintenance claim between a child born out of wedlock and its parents, the law of their last common nationality, or the law of their last joint habitual residence, or the law of the father’s or the mother’s nationality;
  4. in the case of a maintenance claim between the mother of a child born out of wedlock and the child’s father, the law of their last common nationality at the time of the pregnancy, or the law of their habitual or de facto residence; if one of the persons referred to has more than one foreign nationality, the relevant law is taken to be that of the state with which that person has the strongest links.

5. Should the applicant apply to a specific organization or government department (central or local) or a court to obtain maintenance?

A person seeking maintenance should bring an application against the person liable in the courts. In a case within the scope of the New York Convention on the recovery abroad of maintenance (Legislative Order No 4421/1964) , the agency transmitting a claim for maintenance by a claimant in a contracting state asks the receiving agency of the contracting state where the person liable lives, which in Greece is the Ministry of Justice, to take all appropriate steps for the payment of maintenance to the claimant.

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6. Can a request be made on behalf of a relative, a close relation, or a child under age?

An application for recovery of maintenance from the person liable can be brought in the courts on behalf of a minor only by a parent, or in the case of a child born out of wedlock by the child’s mother, who must have parental responsibility. If the parents have been deprived of parental responsibility, an action for maintenance may be brought on behalf of a minor by the person that has been given parental responsibility or by the child’s guardian. If the person entitled has no capacity to enter into legal transactions or is under court assistance, the action in question may be brought by their temporary or permanent guardian or court-appointed assistant.

7. If the applicant plans to bring the case to court, how does he/she know what court has jurisdiction?

The court with jurisdiction in actions for maintenance is the single-judge court of first instance; but the multi-member court of first instance has jurisdiction if the application for maintenance is combined with an application in proceedings in matrimonial matters, i.e. seeking divorce, the annulment of a marriage, or recognition that there is or is not a marriage; or if the action for maintenance is combined with an action contesting paternity, or seeking recognition that there is or that there is not a parent-and-child relationship or parental responsibility, or seeking recognition of the paternity of a child born out of wedlock, or seeking recognition that a child born outside the marriage of its parents has or has not validly been acknowledged voluntarily or deemed to be a child born in wedlock owing to the subsequent marriage of its parents, or contesting a voluntary acknowledgment, or seeking recognition that an adoption has not taken place or seeking the revocation of an adoption, or seeking recognition of the existence or non-existence of a guardianship. The court with territorial jurisdiction is the court of the place of domicile or residence of the defendant; but if the application is combined with an application in proceedings in matrimonial matters, the court with jurisdiction is the court of the habitual residence of the spouses; or of their last joint habitual residence provided one of them is still resident there; or in the case of a joint application the court of the habitual residence of either of them; or the court of the habitual residence of the claimant if the claimant has lived at that address for no less than a year before bringing the action, or six months if the claimant has Greek nationality; or a court of the country of the nationality of both spouses. If there is urgency or imminent danger, the person entitled may ask the single-judge court of first instance that has territorial jurisdiction under the principles just outlined to grant an injunction awarding him or her maintenance on a temporary basis.

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8. Does the applicant have to go through an intermediary to bring the case to court (e.g. a lawyer, specific organization or government department (central or local) etc.) ? If not, which procedures?

Yes, the applicant must appoint a lawyer with power of attorney to bring an action for maintenance in the appropriate court.

9. Does the applicant have to pay fees to bring a case to court? If so, how much are they likely to be? If the financial means of the plaintiff are insufficient, can he/she obtain legal aid to cover the costs of the procedure?

There are some necessary court expenses to be paid, and there are also lawyer’s fees. In the first place the plaintiff in an application for maintenance has to make a down payment for expenses, which is set by the court, but which may not exceed €147; thereafter the expenses vary depending on the amount of maintenance sought, the documents to be served and any postponements of hearings. In cases of poverty the law provides for legal aid on certain conditions.

10. What kind of maintenance is likely to be granted by the court? If an allowance is granted how will it be assessed? Can the court’s decision be revised to take account of changes in the costs of living or family circumstances?

The court sets maintenance for two years, taking account of the requirements of proper living conditions and the education of the person entitled, and the financial capacity of the person liable. After the two years either party, i.e. the person entitled or the person liable, may apply to have a new level of maintenance set, and in the event of a change in the circumstances that the court took into consideration either party may apply to have the judgment varied and the level of maintenance altered.

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11. How and to whom will the maintenance be paid?

In principle maintenance is paid to the person entitled; if the person entitled is a minor, or has no capacity to enter into legal transactions, or is under court assistance, maintenance is paid to the parent, guardian or court-appointed assistant who brings the action on behalf of the person entitled.

12. If the maintenance debtor doesn’t pay voluntarily, what action can be taken in order to force him/her to pay?

If the person liable refuses to pay maintenance, the person entitled will try to enforce the claim against the property of the person liable, if any.

13. Is there an organization or government department (central or local) which can help me to recover maintenance?

No.

14. Can they replace the debtor and pay the maintenance themselves or part of the maintenance in his or her place?

No.

15. Can the petitioner obtain the assistance of an organization or government department (central or local) in Greece?

Yes.

16. If so, how can that organization or government department (central or local) be contacted?

If the person entitled to maintenance is in a state in which the New York Convention on the recovery abroad of maintenance is in force - it applies in Greece under Legislative Order No 4421/64 - or in a state with a bilateral convention with Greece, and if the person liable lives in Greece, the office that can provide help is the Central Office of the Ministry of Justice, Odos Mesogeion 96, Athens, Greece T.K. 115 27, telephone number +30 210 771 41 86. The way to apply to the Office is laid down in the convention.

17. What kind of assistance can the petitioner receive from this organization or government department (central or local) ?

This is provided for in the convention.

18. Can the petitioner address directly a request to an organization or government department (central or local) in Greece?

No, except in the case just described.

« Maintenance claims - General information | Greece - General information »

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Last update: 02-05-2005

 
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