Couples in Greece

Couples in Greece

Couples in Greece

1. Which law applies?

1.1. Which law is applicable to a couple´s property? Which criteria/rules are used to determine the applicable law? Which international conventions have to be respected with regard to certain countries?

For marriages concluded until 28 January 2019, the property regime of spouses is regulated by the law which applied to their personal relations immediately after the marriage took place (Art. 14 and 15 of the Hellenic Civil Code, hereinafter HCC), namely in the following order: 1. the law of the spouses' last common nationality during the marriage, if one of them has retained it 2. in absence thereof, the law of their last common habitual residence during the marriage and 3. in absence thereof, the law to which the spouses have the closest ties.

Following the adoption of European Regulation (EU) 2016/1103 of 24 June 2016, new rules apply to determine the law applicable to all marriages concluded as from 29 January 2019 and to marriages concluded before the date of entry into force where the spouses have chosen a law applicable to their matrimonial regime as from 29 January 2019.

In the absence of choice of law, Article 26 sets out the hierarchy of connecting factors to determine the applicable law, as follows.
  • The spouses’ first common habitual residence after the conclusion of the marriage.
  • Failing that, the spouses’ common nationality at the time of conclusion of the marriage. This criterion cannot be used when the spouses have several common nationalities.
  • Failing that, the law of the State with which the spouses jointly have the closest connection at the time of conclusion of the marriage.

By way of exception and provided that one of the spouses so requests, the competent judicial authority may decide that the law of a State other than that of the first common habitual residence after the conclusion of the marriage shall apply (Art. 22.3).

1.2. Do the spouses have the option of choosing the applicable law? If so, by which principles is this choice governed (e.g. the laws to be chosen, formal requirements, retro-activity)?

Until 28 January 2019, the spouses cannot choose the law applicable to their property by means of contract. The Hague Convention of 14 March 1978 referred to above has not been ratified by Greece. Consequently, the Greek rules of private international law apply ex lege.

Regulation (EU) 2016/1103 provides for the possibility to choose the law of one of the States of which at least one of the spouses is a national or the law of the habitual residence of either spouse at the time of the choice as the law applicable to their matrimonial property regime (Art. 22). This choice may only be validly made as from 29 January 2019 within the framework of a marriage contract or an agreement on the choice of applicable law and in compliance with the formal requirements laid down in Article 23.

Finally, the choice of law applicable to the matrimonial property regime during the marriage will only have effect for the future, unless otherwise agreed by the spouses and without prejudice to the rights of third parties.