Religious Divorce in Greece

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No ecclesiastical divorce exists or has ever existed in Greece. However, for the religious marriages (which were the only possible marriages until 1982) the ecclesiastical authorities have always been involved in all stages of the divorce proceedings. The involvement of the ecclesiastical authorities in the preliminary stage of the divorce, enabling the establishment of the divorce proceedings, has now been abolished, although they still play a part in the main stage of the divorce, completing the divorce procedure.
Before the introduction of Law 1250/1982 (by which civil marriage was estabGshed in Greece), when only religious marriage existed, the procedure for divorce included two stages. The preliminary stage was an attempt at reconciliation by the competent ecclesiastical authority (Arts 593-597 of the Greek Civil Procedure Code). Pursuant to the provisions of these articles, a divorce action was rejected by the court as unacceptable if a reconciliation attempt had not taken place. Therefore, before establishing court proceedings for divorce, the spouses had to file an application with the Bishop. During a 3-month period from the fifing the Bishop could attempt to reconcile the spouses. If, within this period, the Bishop decided that the reconciliation was not feasible, or if the 3month period elapsed without any decision by the Bishop, then each of the spouses could file for divorce with the competent court.
The application for a reconciliation attempt was obligatory if both spouses were Christian Orthodox, and only optional if they were of different denominations, or if one of the spouses was resident abroad. Today this stage has been abolished by virtue of Art S of Law 1250/1982.
The main stage of the divorce procedure takes place in court, resulting in the issue of an irrevocable judgment dissolving the marriage by divorce. The spiritual dissolution of the marriage (by the ecclesiastical authorities) was required for the completion of the divorce procedure. To this end the authorities (ArcMbishopric) issued a certificate, the `Diazefktirio’, without which no new marriage was possible. The Diazefktirio was issued prior to filing a pertinent application to this effect, along with other relevant documents (ie an irrevocable court decision for the dissolution of the marriage, a certificate issued by the Secretary of the court certifying that the divorce court decision was irrevocable and an order of the Public Prosecutor addressed to the Archbishopric for the spiritual dissolution of the marriage).
Since the introduction of Law 1250/1982, establishing civil marriage, there is still no church divorce. For religious marriages, although the preliminary stage of the reconciliation attempt before the Bishop has been abolished and the spouses can now directly file for divorce with the competent court, the completion of the main stage of the divorce procedure by the issue of the Diazefktirio is still necessary, and the same procedure as above is followed for the spiritual dissolution of the marriage. Without this procedure no new marriage can be celebrated.

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