The new reforms in Greek Family Law and the introduction of the e-divorce

On May 21st of 2021, the new Law 4800/2021 entitled “Reforms regarding parent-child relations, other family law issues and other urgent provisions” was published in the Official Gazette of the Hellenic Republic.

The new reform is of the utmost importance, as it introduces innovations replacing the provisions of 13 articles of the Civil Code, as they used to be from 1983 until today.

A striking innovation is, on one hand, the establishment of a new procedure for the selection of qualified mediators from a special register of family mediators, and, on the other hand, the introduction of specialized training for judges in such cases. Specifically, the National School of Judges shall from now on include special programs that shall be presented by specialized Psychology experts, Sociologists and Social Workers, University Professors, as well as Judicial Officers.

Under the empire of the previous legislation, the issuance of a consensual divorce required a notarial deed, the presence of lawyers, while the issues of parental care and alimony were settled in a private agreement. Nevertheless, the new Law simplifies the aforementioned procedures legal provisions with the introduction of the intangible divorce, or otherwise the e-divorce. The aim of such innovation is to save time in case of a consensual divorce, since the use of innovative technological means does no longer require the certification of the authenticity of the signature of the parties. The procedure is simplified by the digital filing of the copy of the notarial deed of divorce at the registry office where the deed of marriage is registered.

In addition, an important chapter is the settlement of the relationship between parents and children, following the divorce. More specifically, Article 1 of the Law emphasizes the purpose of such provisions which is no other than the interest of the minor. The establishment of joint custody is a new reality in Greek law and the reason is the necessity of an active participation of both parents in the upbringing and care of the minor, as well a joint responsibility.

Furthermore, the presumption of communication is introduced, as well as the consequences of poor parental care. The legislator specifies the timeframe of communication that the minor is entitled to with the parent with whom he does not reside, a time that corresponds to one third of the total time spent with the parents. Exceptions to this right are cases of irrevocable conviction of a parent for domestic violence and / or crimes against sexual freedom. The legislator interprets the objective criteria for the bad exercise of parental care, which are the following: i) Default in the payment of alimony; ii) Non-compliance with court decisions and / or agreements between divorced parents; iii) The rupture of the minor’s relationship with one of the parents.

It is worth noting that the legislator seals the Law with safety valves through procedural guarantees regarding the protection of women and minors from violence, in the light of interpretative international Conventions, such as the Istanbul Convention.

The new provisions shall henceforth apply to both new and pending cases on which the irrevocable court decision has not been issued. Nevertheless, in an attempt to provide a fairer and more uniform legal treatment to all cases, even cases which have already received an irrevocable court decision, as well as previous agreements between divorced parents, shall have the possibility to be reviewed under the new legal provisions.

In conclusion, the above reforms create a more Europeanized environment which facilitates and speeds up the processing of procedures, by promoting the out-of-court manner of resolving family law issues in the best interest of the citizen.

The present article is intended for informational purposes only and does not, under any circumstances, constitute legal advice. For further information on the subject, please contact our firm and one of our attorneys shall be glad to assist you.

Nika Kalifatidou
Advocate – Legal Consultant
Arsen Theofanidis LLC