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Last update: 03-08-2007
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Parental responsibility - Greece

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. What does the legal term "parental responsibility" mean in practical terms? What are the rights and obligations of a holder of parental responsibility? 1.
2. As a general rule, who has the parental responsibility over a child? 2.
3. If the parents are unable or unwilling to exercise parental responsibility over their children, can another person be appointed in their place? 3.
4. If the parents divorce or split up, how is the question of parental responsibility determined for the future? 4.
5. If the parents conclude an agreement on the question of parental responsibility, which formalities must be respected to make the agreement legally binding? 5.
6. If the parents cannot come to an agreement on the issue of parental responsibility, what are the alternative means for solving the conflict without going to court? 6.
7. If the parents go to court, what issues can the judge decide upon relating to the child? 7.
8. If the court decides that one parent shall have single custody of a child, does this mean that he or she can decide on all matters relating to the child without first consulting the other parent? 8.
9. If the court decides that the parents shall have joint custody of a child, what does this mean in practice? 9.
10. To which court or authority should I turn if I want to lodge an application on parental responsibility? Which formalities must be respected and which documents shall I attach to my application? 10.
11. Which procedure applies in these cases? Is an emergency procedure available? 11.
12. Can I obtain legal aid to cover the costs of the procedure? 12.
13. Is it possible to appeal against a decision on parental responsibility? 13.
14. In certain cases, it may be necessary to apply to a court or another authority to have a decision on parental responsibility enforced. Which procedure applies in such cases? 14.
15. What should I do to have a decision on parental responsibility that is issued by a court in another Member State recognised and enforced in Greece? Which procedure applies in these cases? 15.
16. To which court should I turn in Greece to oppose the recognition of a decision on parental responsibility issued by a court in another Member State? Which procedure applies in these cases? 16.
17. Which is the applicable law in a proceeding on parental responsibility where the child or the parties do not live in Greece or are of different nationalities? 17.

 

1. What does the legal term "parental responsibility" mean in practical terms? What are the rights and obligations of a holder of parental responsibility?

The legal term "parental responsibility" means that decisions that concern the child's personal affairs or its property are in the first place to be taken by its parents. The parents have a right and a duty to care for the child, to manage its property and to represent it in any matter, transaction or litigation that concerns it or its property.

2. As a general rule, who has the parental responsibility over a child?

As a general rule, the child's parents have the parental responsibility over it, provided they are husband and wife and live together; if either of them dies, is declared missing presumed dead, or is deprived of the parental responsibility, parental responsibility is exercised solely by the other parent. In the same way, if there are other valid reasons why one parent is unable to exercise parental responsibility, or if one parent has no capacity to enter into legal transactions or has only limited capacity to do so parental responsibility is exercised by the other parent. In the case of an adopted child, parental responsibility is exercised by the adoptive parents. If a child is born out of wedlock, and continues in that status, parental responsibility is exercised by the mother.

3. If the parents are unable or unwilling to exercise parental responsibility over their children, can another person be appointed in their place?

Yes. If the parents are unable or unwilling to exercise parental responsibility or if for some reason their parental responsibility is terminated, the court appoints a guardian with parental responsibility.

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4. If the parents divorce or split up, how is the question of parental responsibility determined for the future?

In a divorce by consent, the parents conclude an agreement on the way they propose to exercise parental responsibility or custody over the child, and attach it to the application for the dissolution of their marriage which they submit to the single judge court of first instance of the place; the procedure followed is that for non contentious cases. If instead they apply to the multi-member court of first instance of the place for the dissolution of their marriage on grounds of irretrievable breakdown, the procedure followed is that for marital disputes; in this application they may also make a request that parental responsibility be granted to one of the two or to both, or they may bring separate proceedings before the single judge court of first instance of the place which tries the case according to the procedure of Article 681B of the Civil Code, and decides by reference to the best interests of the child. If imminent danger or urgency arises in connection with a divorce or separation, the single judge court of first instance of the place may grant an injunction determining the issue of parental responsibility on a temporary basis.

5. If the parents conclude an agreement on the question of parental responsibility, which formalities must be respected to make the agreement legally binding?

If the parents agree on the way parental responsibility is to be exercised, they submit a written agreement on the question in the proceedings before the court having jurisdiction for the place and subject matter, and mention this agreement in their written submissions; the court considers whether the agreement is in the best interests of the child, and if so, decides the question of parental responsibility in the manner agreed.

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6. If the parents cannot come to an agreement on the issue of parental responsibility, what are the alternative means for solving the conflict without going to court?

The law provides no alternative means for settling parental responsibility other than court proceedings.

7. If the parents go to court, what issues can the judge decide upon relating to the child?

If the parents go to court, the judge can grant parental responsibility to either or both of them, divide it between them, or grant it to a third party. In the event of divorce, separation or the annulment of a marriage, custody of a child is awarded to the parent with whom the child is to live; this includes the child's upbringing, supervision, education, and place of residence. The judge also sets the maintenance payments that the other parent is to make, and determines the child's right of contact with that parent.

8. If the court decides that one parent shall have single custody of a child, does this mean that he or she can decide on all matters relating to the child without first consulting the other parent?

The rule is that both parents together must decide on every matter relating to the exercise of parental responsibility. However, if the court decides that one of the parents is to have sole custody of the child, that parent acting alone may perform the ordinary actions relating to the custody of the child, carry on the ordinary management of the child's property, or perform any actions of an urgent nature and receive any legal act addressed to the child. Furthermore, the parent that has been awarded custody of the child is the one that makes the maintenance claim on the child's behalf against the one that does not have custody. If the other parent is opposed to an action taken by the parent with custody, claiming that the action taken was not in the course of ordinary custody or of the ordinary management of the child's property, nor was it urgent, the aggrieved parent may seek redress in court, claiming that the action was a breach of duty or misuse of parental responsibility. Even where one parent is entitled to act alone, failure to notify the other of action taken may constitute misuse of parental responsibility.

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9. If the court decides that the parents shall have joint custody of a child, what does this mean in practice?

When the court decides that the parents are to have joint custody of a child, they decide together on the exercise of custody, in the child's best interests.

10. To which court or authority should I turn if I want to lodge an application on parental responsibility? Which formalities must be respected and which documents shall I attach to my application?

The court with jurisdiction in cases of parental responsibility is generally the single judge court of first instance; if the application for parental responsibility is included in an application for divorce on grounds of irretrievable breakdown or an application for an annulment of the marriage, the appropriate court is the multi member court of first instance.

In the case of citizens of other EU Member States, the court with territorial jurisdiction is the court of the state specified by Articles 2 and 3 of Council Regulation (EC) No 1347/2000. Thereafter, the court with territorial jurisdiction is the one in the place of the last joint residence of the married couple, and then the one in the place of residence of the respondent. The application is lodged with the secretariat of the court, the trial date is set, and the applicant's lawyer sees to it that a copy is served on the respondent. If it is to be served within the country, the copy is served on the respondent by a bailiff. If it is to be served abroad, Council Regulation (EC) 1348/2000 applies in the case of a Member State, and the Hague Convention of 15 November 1965 on the service of documents abroad applies in the case of a state bound by that Convention; otherwise, the copy of the petition is given to the appropriate public prosecutor, who in turn sends it to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order for it to be served on the defendant according to the laws of the foreign country. Furthermore, a copy of the petition is served on the prosecutor, and a summary is published in two newspapers, one of which is published in Athens and the other in the district of the court where the case is to be tried, if the respondent's address is not known. For the trial of the case, written statements are lodged setting out the claims of the two parties and their documentary evidence, and witnesses are examined in order to prove the allegations of each party. Provided that the respondent has been summoned legally and within due time, if the respondent fails to appear, the court will try the case as if the respondent were present. A counterclaim is made in the same court by lodging an application and serving the counter respondent five working days before the trial date. A social investigation by the social services takes place before the date of the trial, and a detailed report is submitted to the court; if the court deems it necessary, it will hear the minor's opinion. After the date of the hearing, the two parties have the right to add a rebuttal within three working days. After some time the court delivers its judgment deciding how parental responsibility is to be exercised.

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11. Which procedure applies in these cases? Is an emergency procedure available?

In these cases, the procedure that applies is the one in Article 681B of the Code of Civil Procedure, which is a relatively quick procedure during which the trial date is set more rapidly than in other actions and the ruling is usually delivered sooner. When there is urgency or imminent danger, provisional and precautionary measures may be sought from the single judge court of first instance with territorial jurisdiction: once an application has been lodge at the court's secretariat, a trial date is set very soon, and there is a short deadline for the serving of the application to the respondent who can be also summoned by phone or by telegram; at the hearing or by a deadline set by the court, papers are submitted setting out the parties' claims, with the relevant documents, witnesses are examined in open court, and the court delivers its ruling in a short period of time on the balance of probabilities. Any counterclaim is examined orally at the hearing.

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

Yes, legal aid is available if it is shown that a part is unable to pay for the expenses of the trial without limiting the means necessary for the maintenance of that party and his or her family, unless the court finds that the lawuit is manifestly unjustified or inexpedient.

13. Is it possible to appeal against a decision on parental responsibility?

Yes, before the appropriate court of appeal.

14. In certain cases, it may be necessary to apply to a court or another authority to have a decision on parental responsibility enforced. Which procedure applies in such cases?

Judgments awarding parental responsibility or custody to a person also order the delivery of the child to the same person, and if the person required to deliver up the child fails to do so, the court will of its own motion impose a pecuniary penalty or detention, or both of these penalties. Furthermore, if the person required to deliver up the child does not conform to the court's ruling, the court may order indirect enforcement, and may order statements to be taken on oath.

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15. What should I do to have a decision on parental responsibility that is issued by a court in another Member State recognised and enforced in Greece? Which procedure applies in these cases?

According to Council Regulation (EC) 1347/2000, judgments delivered in an EU Member State are recognised in the other Member States without any special procedure being required. A person who wants to have a judgment on parental responsibility recognised in Greece must submit an application to the single judge court of first instance in the place of normal residence of the person against which the decision is to be enforced, or in the place of the child's normal residence, or lastly in the place where the decision is to be enforced. Along with the application, the following must be produced:

  1. a copy of the judgment which satisfies the conditions necessary to establish its authenticity;
  2. a certificate of the kind referred to in Article 33, stating the court that delivered the judgment, the persons concerned, whether the judgment was given in default of appearance, whether it is subject to appeal, whether legal aid was granted, etc.;
  3. if the judgment was given in default, an original or a certified copy of the document which establishes that the defaulting party was served with the document instituting the proceedings or with an equivalent document, or any document indicating that the respondent has accepted the decision unequivocally.

After receiving a trial date the applicant must serve a copy of the application to the respondent, along with the document setting the trial date and a summons to appear at the hearing. The court may not review the jurisdiction of the court of the EU Member State that delivered the judgment; it considers whether recognising the decision would be contrary to its own public policy, whether the application instituting proceedings was served on a defaulting party in sufficient time to enable that party to defend himself or herself, or whether that party has accepted the decision unequivocally, and whether the judgment is irreconcilable with a judgment given previously in proceedings between the same parties in the Member State in which recognition is sought, or in another Member State, or in a non member State, which fulfils the conditions necessary for its recognition in the Member State in which recognition is sought; and if the court is satisfied, it recognises the judgment.

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16. To which court should I turn in Greece to oppose the recognition of a decision on parental responsibility issued by a court in another Member State? Which procedure applies in these cases?

To oppose a judgment recognising a judgment delivered by a court in another Member State, an action should be brought in the court of appeal, the procedure being that for contentious cases. The deadline for appeal is one month after service of the judgment, or two months from service of the judgment if the party against whom recognition is sought is normally resident in a Member State other than that in which enforcement was ordered. This deadline cannot be extended for reasons of distance. If the party against whom recognition is sought fails to appear, the court must stay the proceedings until it is shown that that party has been summoned legally and in due time, or that every possible effort has been made to this end. The judgment of the court of appeal can be challenged on points of law before the supreme court.

17. Which is the applicable law in a proceeding on parental responsibility where the child or the parties do not live in Greece or are of different nationalities?

The substantive law applicable to parental responsibility is as follows, in order:

  1. the law of the last common nationality of parents and children

  2. the law of their last joint normal residence and

  3. the law of the child's nationality; if the child is of Greek and foreign nationality, then the law of the Greek nationality applies. If the child has multiple foreign nationalities, then the law that applies; is the one of the nationality to which the child has the strongest links

The procedural law applicable is Greek law, in accordance with the principle of lex fori.

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Last update: 03-08-2007

 
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