Atlas

Greece

Greek family and succession law recognise three forms of couple's relationship:

  1. MARRIAGE between persons of opposite sex,

  2. REGISTERED PARTNERSHIPS between persons of the opposite or same sex,

  3. DE FACTO COHABITATION between two persons of opposite or same sex.

The first two categories are thoroughly regulated by the Civil Code, while the third is only sporadically regulated by the Civil Code. 

________________________________________________________________________

DISCRIMINATORY RULES

Marriage is confined only to opposite sex couples. De facto cohabitation is not regulated by law and no succession rights exists.

________________________________________________________________________

Links to applicable regulations

_______________________________________________________________________

 

MARRIAGE 

  • The default matrimonial property regime is the separation of the property, while the spouses may contractually agree on community of property.

Matrimonial property is governed by the principle of autonomy of the parties. In the absence of such choice, each spouse owns and manages his property separately (statutory matrimonial property regime, Arts. 1397-1402 of the Civil Code).

The spouses may formally agree on community of property (contractual matrimonial property regime (Arts. 1403-1415 of the Civil Code). Such an agreement may be concluded before or during the marriage, but formally it has to be drawn as a notarial act registered in the special public book. The relevant notarial act determines the particular details of the system of community of property (e.g. its extent, the administration of the common property, the apportionment of the common assets after its termination etc.), but subject to overriding principle of the equality of the spouses (Art. 1404 of the Civil Code). The community of property may include all or some of the assets of the spouses. Hence, the spouses may choose between a) the system of catholic community (every patrimonial asset acquired before or during marriage becomes common, with the exception of assets destined for personal use, rights of intellectual property etc.), and b) the system of partial community. In the absence of clear determination of the extent of the community of property, common property includes only whatever is acquired during the marriage.

In case of separation of the spouses, the Court may concede to one spouse the exclusive use of the whole or part of the family residence, after taking into account the special professional and financial circumstances of each spouse  and the interest of the children as well. Moreover, each spouse shall be entitled to recover the movables belonging to him, even if they were used by both or by the other spouse alone. Movables belonging to both spouses shall be apportioned according to their personal needs.

The community of property regime ends automatically a) with the dissolution or the annulment of the marriage; b) by virtue of an agreement between the spouses evidenced by notarial act; and c) by court decision after action by one of the spouses in case of interruption of the marital cohabitation for at least one year, if the interests of one spouse are in danger and if the other spouse does not fulfil his obligation to contribute to family needs. With the termination of the community of property regime, the spouses shall revert to the (default) statutory matrimonial property regime, which is evidenced to third parties by the registration of the event causing the termination in the special public book.

Under the (default) statutory matrimonial property regime, in case of dissolution (through divorce or death) or annulment of the marriage or separation that lasted more than three years, if there has been an increase in the property of one spouse since the celebration of the marriage, the other spouse is entitled to claim the increase that is due to his contribution, provided that he has contributed in any manner to such increase. In those cases, there shall be presumed that such contribution amounts to one third of the increase, unless a greater or lesser contribution or no contribution at all can be proven. The increase shall not include what has been acquired through donation, inheritance and legacy or through disposal of their proceeds.  The claim shall be prescribed two years after the dissolution or the annulment of the marriage and shall not arise to the benefit of the heirs of the deceased spouse.

  • Maintenance obligation exists among the spouses. Pursuant to Art. 1444(2)(a) of the Civil Code a right to maintenance ceases if the beneficiary of the maintenance marries another individual or lives with another individual in a free union/cohabitation.

  • In the event of death of the spouse dissolution of communion of property takes place prior to successions procedure.

Intestate succession takes place when there is no testament. Succession in intestacy is based on the kinship with the deceased. The Civil Code enlists the legal heirs of the deceased in classes (Art. 1813-1824 Civil Code). Descendants of the deceased in the first class, his parents and siblings in the second class, his grandparents in the third class, great-grandparents in the fourth class and as sole heir of the fifth class, inherits the surviving spouse. The surviving spouse from a valid marriage shall also be called as heir together with the relatives of the first class to one fourth of the estate and with the relatives of the second, third and fourth classes to one half of the estate, while in the fifth class inherits the whole estate. In addition, he receives the furniture, houseware, clothing and other similar domestic objects that were being used by him or by both spouses, taking into consideration the needs of the children of the deceased. Such accretion shall be interpreted as a legacy and is acquired immediately and ipso jure by the surviving spouse. The surviving spouse may lose his right to succession and to additional accretion when the deceased spouse instituted legal proceedings for divorce against the surviving spouse based on a justified ground for divorce, which must exist at the time of devolution of the inheritance.

The provisions of the Civil Code on compulsory heirship protect the closest relatives of the deceased (descendants, the parents, surviving spouse) in event of testate successions. Testamentary dispositions to the prejudice of compulsory heirs or restricting their share are null. Compulsory heirs are entitled to one-half of their intestate share.

 

REGISTERED PARTNERSHIP  

  • The provisions governing the matrimonial property regime and successions also apply to registered partnership.

The provisions concerning the legal effects of marriage apply to registered partners (Laws 3719/2008 and 4356/2015). It relates to personal and non-personal relationships, including the property rights and the right of succession. The provisions governing the matrimonial property regime govern also the property regime of registered partnerships unless the partners agree otherwise, on the condition that the principles of equality and solidarity are fulfilled (Art. 5 of the Law 4356/2015).

 

DE FACTO COHABITATION

  • Property rights of de facto cohabitation are governed by the general provisions of the Civil Code on unjustified enrichment (Art. 5 of the Law 4356/2015).

De facto cohabitation is not legally defined as a form of family union in Greece law, but some family rights are extended ex lege to them as well. The Civil Code specifically provides that issues relating to assets acquired after the commencement of cohabitation are governed by the general provisions of the Civil Code on unjustified enrichment (Arts. 5-6 of the Law 4356/2015). There is also a possible analogous application of certain family law provisions of the Civil Code on specific (permissible) agreements of the individuals living in a de facto cohabitation.

  • In the event of death of the de facto cohabitant no succession rights are granted to .the surviving cohabitant.

Based on national report by Vassiliki Koumpli and Vassiliki Marazopoulou