Family Mediation in Greece
Are you facing a separation or divorce in Greece?
There are many advantages of relocating to Greece, one of them being the guaranteed sunshine and high temperatures all year round. According to latest official figures, approximately 18,000 British nationals live in Greece. This is not a surprise, as many British people move away from the cold and wet of the UK to start a new life in the sun to enjoy the benefits of living in a warm climate, close to the sea. Undoubtedly, with its rich cultural history, friendly, hospitable locals, and more than 3,000 hours of sunshine per year, Greece has a lot to offer. These are only a few of the reasons, why you and many British nationals may have chosen to move to Greece. Another situation may be that your move to Greece was motivated by a relationship with a Greek national.
However, the transition process after moving to Greece is not always easy. The dream of watching sunsets over a glass of wine is not the everyday reality and you can start to realise that your previous support network has been removed and you are alone in a country, possibly not speaking the language and feeling isolated. This puts pressure on the relationship and can have a negative impact, resulting in the relationship falling apart and your dream becomes a nightmare. To sort out these issues can be a challenge and that is why we have set up our family mediation service in Greece to support separating or divorcing couples. It is hoped that through mediation a solution can be found that will work for everyone, so that you can move forward with your life.
The Technical Part
The law is not easy to understand, and you might be thinking where should you file your divorce. Here is a very basic outline of divorce in the European Union; however, it is always advisable to seek legal advice from a qualified lawyer before making any decisions. What is important to remember is that the first court, where the request is filed and that meets the conditions below, has the power to make a judgement on your divorce. In addition to this, the ruling court may also issue orders relating to parental responsibility, if your child lives in that country.
EU rules are in place to regulate, which court is competent to file an application for divorce. According to the regulation concerning jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgements in matrimonial matters and the matters of parental responsibility, a divorce pronounced in one EU country is easily recognised in other countries of the EU. However, you need to remember that, in the end, it is the national laws of each EU country that will determine the appropriate legal procedures for your divorce, since the rules may vary significantly from one EU country to another.
In short, you are able to file your request for a divorce with the courts in the country where:
- you and your spouse currently live, or
- you previously lived together (do make sure that one of you is still living there), or
- your spouse lives, or
- you live, but only if you have lived there for at least 6 months immediately before filing for divorce and are a national of that country, or
- both you and your spouse are nationals.
You also need to remember that if you are not a national of the country you are considering to file your divorce in, you must ensure that you have lived there for at least 1 year immediately before making the application to court.
Greek Legal Framework
Here is some specific information about how the law is applied in Greece. However, reading this does not replace the need to seek legal advice. The current Greek legal framework is based on Law 4640/2019, which implements Directive 2008/52/EC in Greece. The new law was published on November 30, 2019 in the Official Government Gazette of Greece, which is the official journal of Greek Government that lists all laws passed and ratified. The new Law has replaced Law 4512/2018. Its aim is to further regulate mediation in Greece.
According to the new law, before you appeal to the competent Court, your lawyer is obliged to inform you in writing about your right to solve your whole dispute, or part of it, through mediation. They should also inform you about your obligation to the mandatory initial mediation session and its procedure according to Articles 6 and 7 of Law 4640/2019. This documentation shall be completed and signed by you – the client – and your lawyer and shall be delivered with the court application with a penalty of inadmissibility. Mediation is permitted in Greece for the following situations:
- If parties agree to solve their dispute through mediation, after the dispute has arisen.
- If parties are called to seek and consent to mediation, according to Article 4 (2).
- If mediation is ordered by a judicial authority of another Member State and the matter of the dispute does not infringe good public morals and public policy of Greece.
- If mediation is required by law.
- If there was a mediation clause in the written agreement of the parties.
In certain cases, as defined in Law, the minutes of the compulsory initial mediation session will be filed together with the conclusions of the case, for the court application. According to Article 7 (3) of the Law, the mandatory initial mediation session shall take place within 20 days following the day on which the request for mediation was sent to the mediator. If one of the parties resides abroad, the deadline shall be extended to 30 days. The compulsory initial mediation session is confidential, no minutes are kept or submitted.
The competent court may impose a fine of not less than 100 Euros and no more than 500 Euros on the person who did not attend the mandatory initial mediation session, taking into account their general conduct and the reasons of not attending the initial mediation session.
A mediation settlement agreement will be signed after the mediation session has been concluded by all parties, their lawyers and the mediator. In the case that no agreement was reached, the minutes shall be signed by the mediator. After the case is lodged with the appropriate court, the minutes become an enforcing title. Indeed, mediation constitutes a potential option for people, who are – inter alia – willing to resolve their disputes and re-establish a positive relationship, once the dispute is resolved. Therefore, family mediation is the best option if you think you are one of these people.
How does family mediation work?
The mediation process is simple. Trained professionals engage directly with you and your ex-partner, in order to find a solution that both of you can live with. The first step is for you and your ex-partner to have a Mediation Information & Assessment Meetings (MIAMs). You will attend these separately and explain to the mediator about your current situation and the issues you are facing. If mediation is considered to be appropriate for your case, then you either have a meeting together (face to face) or have your discussions via shuttle (this is when you are in separate rooms and the mediator goes between the two of you). Mediation can be also held online, which is particularly useful if you and your ex-partner live a long way apart, or in different countries. At the end of every mediation session, you will both receive a written record of what has been discussed and proposals made. Agreements can be written up by the mediator in the form of a Parenting Plan (child matters), or an Open Financial Statement and Memorandum of Understanding (financial matters).
The mediator will not make decisions for you and your ex-partner, neither will they act as a judge on your case. Your mediator will try to bring you both to a common middle ground. Their main responsibility during the mediation session is to facilitate negotiations and a settlement between you and your ex-partner. This will be achieved by the mediator guiding and providing encouragement during the conversations in mediation. Before you start the mediator will go through a document called the Agreement to Mediate, which is all the information and the rules you need to know before entering the mediation session.
It is important to remember that mediation is a non-binding procedure. Therefore, you cannot be forced to accept an outcome that you are not content with. Your mediation session is a confidential process. This means that any information which may be disclosed during your session cannot be provided to anyone outside the context of mediation. This confidentiality allows you to negotiate freely, without the fear of future exposure. Your mediator will help you explore common interests and support you in coming up with solutions that work for both of you. In order to achieve that, your mediator will be neutral and impartial. This means they will treat both sides in exactly the same way.
To try and make things clearer about the benefits of mediation, we have taken a metaphor, which is taken from “Getting to Yes” by Fisher and Ury, Harvard University. “Two children are fighting for the only orange. Both of them want the whole orange. Initially, the two children started using adversarial methods that ignored the interests of the other party. If they continued this way, they could end up destroying the only orange. If the one child overpowered the other, he may have won the orange, but the other child would have left with no orange at all. A good idea would be to split the orange in half, so that both children could share it equally. This seems like a pretty fair solution, since both of them will take 50% of what they want. However, we can do better than this, if we ask each child, why they want the orange. It turns out that the one child wants to bake a cake with the peels of exactly one orange, while the other only wants to eat the fruit and throw the peels into the waste bin. Here comes the ideal solution; the first child will take the peel and the second child will enjoy the fruit. Both of them will take 100% of what they need”.
Now, if you compare the family mediation session to the aforementioned story, you will understand that a similar approach may be able to be established with regards to your situation. Your mediator will be there to help you and your ex-partner through the process. Choosing mediation means taking advantage of prompt results, cost effective procedures and enforceable final agreements.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is family mediation available in Greece?
There are family mediators in Greece. However, if you are wishing to make an application in the English courts, you will need a Family Mediation Council registered mediator.
Can I go back to the UK to file for my divorce?
If you are British, it does not automatically mean you can file for your divorce in the UK. There are a number of legal tests which apply.
Can family mediation be done online?
Yes, family mediation can be carried out online via video conferencing using such programs as Zoom and Skype.
Will our children’s views be taken into account in mediation?
It depends on the age of the child and their ability to cope with the situation. All mediators registered with the Family Mediation Council have an awareness of Child Inclusive Mediation and will be able to advise you and your ex-partner.
Your family mediation
Divorce or separation is definitely not easy. However, our accredited family mediator, Stuart Hanson, will support you and your family through this situation. Stuart is accredited by the Family Mediation Council (FMC) in both child and financial matters and is a member of the College of Mediators. He also trains mediators nationally on the subject of the LGBT+ family and the issues that international families face. He was previously a magistrate in Leeds family court, United Kingdom. Stuart often works as a mediator on international family cases. In 2018, Stuart was honored with a National Mediation Award and in 2019 he was appointed to the board of directors of the national mediation regulator, The College of Mediators. As a professionally trained and impartial family mediator, he will assist you and your ex-partner through the mediation process to communicate more effectively and to assist both of you on how to put together plans for the future. We are of the opinion that you and your ex-partner know your situation better than anyone else, so it is best that you are both making decisions, not a third party.
A message from Direct Mediation Services’ colleague in Greece –
“During my internship at Direct Mediation Services, I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with Stuart Hanson and observe how family mediation sessions are conducted. After having completed my law studies at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and having had my internship at Direct Mediation Services in Leeds, United Kingdom, I’m equipped with the necessary experience, so as to guide you through the first administrative parts of the procedure, before you have your mediation session with Stuart. My experience in Direct Mediation Services includes, inter alia, tasks such as actively participating in Mediation Information & Assessment Meetings (MIAMs), observing mediation sessions, helping prepare session records for families dealing with divorce or separation and assisting in developing the templates that Stuart uses. I’ll be more than happy to support you during your mediation path and help you effectively get through the steps of your family mediation process.”
It is with regret that many people who divorce or separate, do not contemplate contacting a family mediator and go to a family solicitor/lawyer. You may wish to speak with an accredited mediator to see if family mediation could assist you, instead of proceeding with an expensive and lengthy legal case. Family mediation may help you and your family save a lot of money and avoid court.
As a firm we are proud to say that we are award-winning with a team of highly experienced family mediators, accredited by the Family Mediation Council.
Family mediation starts with a Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting (MIAM), which is priced at £120 (including VAT). This is a meeting you attend by yourself with a mediator and you talk about your situation. The cost per hour per person always remains the same if your case progresses to mediation.
The feedback we have received from our clients has been more than positive, we are confident that family mediation will be an excellent starting point to hopefully finding a solution to your problems.
If you would like to talk about your situation, or to discuss your mediation process, please complete our short online form. Please feel free to write in Greek or English. We look forward to working with you and your family and to help you start a new chapter of your life.
The information we have written here is only a general guide. If you think you need legal advice, we suggest that you get in touch with a family solicitor in Greece or the UK.
Direct Mediation Services is a trading name for The Intelligent Solutions Group Ltd. We have tried our best to make sure that the information presented is accurate, but remember that we cannot accept liability for any loss, damage or inconvenience resulting as a consequence of any use of or the inability to use any information here. Whilst we try to provide the best information available, we cannot promise you that the information we have here will be free from errors. We are also not responsible for any claims brought by third parties coming from your use of information found on our website.
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