A marriage may be dissolved by a court decision (divorce). Divorce may be granted after a reconsideration period of six months or after the spouses have lived separated for at least the past two years without interruptions. When dealing with a divorce case, the court does not examine the reasons for a divorce petition.
A written divorce petition shall be submitted to a district court. The petition may be filed by the spouses jointly or by one of the spouses alone. The petition may be taken to the registry of the district court personally or sent to the court by mail, fax or e-mail.
If only one of the spouses petitions for divorce, the district court serves the petition on the other spouse and reserves him or her an opportunity to issue a written statement on the petition. Divorce is, however, always granted when it has been petitioned for.
If the spouses file a joint divorce petition, the reconsideration period begins when the petition arrives at the district court. If the petition is filed by one of the spouses alone, the reconsideration period begins when the petition is served on the other spouse. The district court informs the parties when the reconsideration period has begun and gives them instructions on how to proceed if they wish to be granted a final divorce.
Once the reconsideration period has ended, the spouses jointly or one of the spouses alone may file a petition for final divorce. The petition must, however, be filed within one year from the beginning of the reconsideration period. The petition for final divorce is filed in the same manner as the first petition for divorce.
The spouses may be granted a divorce without a reconsideration period, if they have lived separated for at least the past two years without interruptions. The separation must be proved by presenting for example an extract from the Population Information System.
In connection with a divorce petition, the following may also be claimed at the district court:
- an order on the end of cohabitation that determines which of the spouses may continue to live in the common home;
- a decision on child custody, residence of a child and right of access;
- a decision on maintenance payable to a child or a spouse;
- an appointment of an estate distributor to carry out a distribution of matrimonial property.
The above mentioned matters may be heard and decided at the district court also in a separate trial.
The parents may also settle their children's matters by concluding an agreement at the office of a child welfare officer. The social welfare authority confirms the agreement, which makes it as legally valid and binding as a court decision. The spouses may also agree on the child's matters between the two of them. Such an agreement is not, however, enforceable.
Further information on the legal questions related to divorce is provided by the state legal aid offices, private advocates and other lawyers.
Distribution of matrimonial assets may be carried out once the divorce petition has been filed. The spouses may agree on the distribution also between the two of them. If the spouses do not reach an agreement on the distribution of matrimonial assets, the district court shall, upon application, appoint an estate distributor to carry out the distribution.
A registered partnership may be dissolved by a district court order. The provisions on divorce are applied to the dissolution of a registered partnership.