5 What are the consequences of divorce/separation?

5.1. How is the property (rights in rem) divided?

In the matrimonial property system of Finland, the date of the institution of divorce proceedings determines which property is included in the division of marital property (property covered by the marital right). Thus, the marital right of a spouse does not cover any property that the other spouse earns, inherits or receives as a gift after this date. For the division, the value of the property on the date of the division is relevant. Both spouses are entitled to receive half of the spouses' net marital property (§ 35 Marriage Act). Therefore, the marital property is totalled and divided by two in order to determine what a spouse is entitled to. After this, a spouse's private debts incurred prior to the institution of divorce proceedings and his/her share of the common debts have to be deducted (§ 99 Marriage Act). If a spouse is excessively indebted, zero is marked as his/her assets. If one spouse's property covered by the marital right exceeds that of the other spouse, the difference shall be evened out. The end result of the division can be adjusted (made reasonable), if it would lead to an unreasonable detriment for one spouse, and the other spouse would receive an unjustifiable benefit due to the division (§ 103b Marriage Act).

If the spouses have concluded a marital agreement which mutually excludes the marital right, after the dissolution of marriage only a separation of property takes place. In the course of this separation of property, both spouses will receive their own property. The end result of the separation of property can be adjusted by ruling that a part of a spouse's property or the entirety of the property shall be property covered by the marital right. In this case, the other spouse will receive half of the assets covered by the marital right. Adjustment of the separation is possible for example in a situation where one of the spouses would be allowed to keep a considerable amount of property and the other one would be left without a place to live (§ 103b Marriage Act).

If the division of the property cannot be performed otherwise, or if the joint property cannot be divided, the court can give permission to sell the property and the sale proceeds will be divided.

5.2. Who is liable for existing debts after the divorce/separation?

The spouses both remain liable for debts which they have incurred together and which either of them has incurred for the maintenance of the family during the marriage. A breakdown of the relationship before divorce proceedings have been instituted can exempt a spouse from being liable for maintenance debts which the other spouse has incurred after the separation, if the creditor was aware of it.

5.3. Does one spouse have a claim to an equalisation payment?

If one spouse has received less than he/she would be entitled to in the course of the division, the other spouse may adjust the difference by way of payment. The compensation can also be made by giving property to the other party.