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Divorce in Finland

When getting married, one doesn’t usually think about the possibility of the union ending in a divorce. Amidst the turmoil of changes and emotions, one should also know how to handle all practical matters related to the divorce and custody of shared children. The situation can raise several legal questions that need addressing. How should one proceed if they want a divorce? How is divorce process initiated? What happens after filing for divorce? How are matters concerning joint children decided in connection with divorce in Finland? Below, we’ve compiled instructions for filing for divorce and we explain how the divorce process unfolds.

The picture shows a couple on their way to the court to apply for a divorce.

Filing for divorce in Finland

The first step is to fill out a divorce application, which can be found on the judiciary’s website. The completed and signed application can be submitted to a district court nearest to your place of residence. The application can be delivered to a registry of the court or sent to the court by mail or email. Divorce in Finland can be sought jointly or separately by spouses. This does not affect the outcome. However, if relations are severely strained, it may be better to file the application alone in such a situation.

What happens after filing for divorce to the district court?

After filing for a divorce in Finland, it starts six month reconsideration period. When you seek divorce individually, the reconsideration period starts when the district court serves the application on your spouse. If seeking divorce jointly, the reflection period begins when the application is received by the court.

You can be granted a divorce without six month reconsideration period if the spouses have been living separately for at least two years without interruption. In such a case, living separately must be somehow demonstrated. The Digital and Population Data Services Agency can grant the required documentation for this, as they are responsible for the population information system.

It is not required that the spouses live separately during the reconsideration period, although that is often the case.

Second phase: after the reconsideration period

If both or one of the spouses still wants to be granted a divorce after the reconsideration period, they can apply for final divorce at the district court where the initial divorce application was filed before the six month reconsideration period. The spouses can apply for final divorce jointly or separately. The application form for final divorce to be filled out is the same form as before. This time, the section regarding the second phase is filled out.

Final divorce must be sought before one year passes from the submission or service of the initial divorce form to the other spouse. If final divorce is not sought within this time, the divorce lapses. This means the marriage continues legally. To obtain the divorce, it is essential to remember to prepare and submit the final divorce application to the district court on time.

If one of the spouses seeks to finalize divorce alone, the district court serves the application on the other spouse again. Subsequently, you are granted a divorce, and both parties are notified of the divorce by mail.

Second phase and a reconsideration period

Second phase does not have a reconsideration period. Only in case the spouses fail to finalize the divorce in right time, you will have to wait again for the duration of the six month reconsideration. Of course, the aforementioned rule on living separately for at least two years applies here the same.

If there are joint children, how are their matters decided in case of divorce?

Matters concerning joint children in Finland can be stated in the “other demands” section of the divorce application with reasons. However, child-related demands may not always be clear at this stage, which is why these demands can be presented later with the petition filed to a district court. Both of the parents can file for this on his or her own.

Spouses can agree jointly on matters such as children’s residence, visitation, custody, and child support. However, it should be noted that a mutual agreement between parents is not legally valid. Therefore, it would be advisable for parents to draft a written agreement on children’s matters, which the child welfare officer will confirm. A confirmed agreement by the child welfare officer can be equated with a court decision and is legally valid.

As a last resort, the district court

However, parents do not always agree on custody, visitation, and child support issues concerning children. In principle, and in the best interests of the child, an amicable settlement is always the best option. Parents should primarily try to reach an agreement on children’s matters with the help of a child welfare officer or lawyer. In this case, it would be good for both parties to have their own legal counsel.

In Finland if parties cannot agree on children’s matters, ultimately, a spouse can apply for the district court, which will make a decision on the matter, and both parents must abide by it. Either of the parents can file for the petition to the court and make their demands to the other parent.

Division of the property and the distribution of marital assets in Finland

The spouses typically get their property mixed during marriage and after divorce it may be hard to say who owns the furniture, for example. Annia has handled divorce cases for over decade and our lawyers have extensive knowledge on family law matters.

To give a very brief overview of how the distribution of marital assets works in Finland, we can imagine a case where you have property worth 100.000 euros, whereas your spouse has property worth of 500.000 euros. Therefore the total sum of your combined marital property is 600.000 euros, which divided to both of the spouses adds up to 300.000 euros per spouse. Therefore your spouse would have to pay you 200.000 euros as an adjusting payment, after which you would both have the 300.000 euros, which you are entitled for.

The property can involve real estate, investments and art collections for example to name a few. If you or your spouse own a company, that is also included in the calculation and can often times lead to adjusting payments of big amounts if the company is successful.

It is often a good idea to consider making a prenuptial agreement during the marriage to prevent complications in case of a divorce. After the divorce it is too late to make a prenuptial agreement in Finland.

There are many twists and turns to this process. You can also contact us at any time if you have further questions on this regard.

Division and distribution of marital assets in process.

Do I need a lawyer’s assistance in a divorce?

If you are considering a divorce, it would be good to understand what it means legally at this stage and how it will affect your life. If spouses have joint children, especially in this case, consulting a lawyer is worthwhile. By consulting a lawyer, you gain insight into how to handle issues concerning children and how division of property and the distribution of marital property is carried out in Finland. With the help of a lawyer, parties’ chances of reaching an agreement quickly and easily increase. The starting point is always to seek and promote an amicable resolution. By enlisting a lawyer’s assistance at an early stage, parties save money and avoid the situation becoming deadlocked. The end of a marriage is a significant life change on its own in any case and needs to be handled with professional caution.

Lawyer’s fee, legal costs and legal aid

We will always check your eligibility to receive state funded legal aid and/or your chance to have your legal expenses covered through your legal expense insurance if you have one. This is typically included in home insurances in Finland. Legal aid is often a viable option in matters regarding children, for example. The amount of legal aid you are eligible to receive varies depending on your income level. We also apply for legal aid on your behalf as these matters may be complex and you may have a lot on your plate already.

Let Annia help you

Our staff is always happy to assist you if you have a question on the topic. We offer you a free 15-minute initial consultation, where you can discuss your situation with our lawyer. You can also contact us without any commitment on a low threshold. Upon request, we can also provide you with a price estimate for the entire assignment if you decide to start cooperation with us. Get in touch!

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