Filing for divorce
Either spouse alone or both spouses together can file for a divorce. You can file for a divorce alone, even if your spouse does not wish to separate from you.
Divorce application is filed at a District Court. The court will not investigate why you have filed for a divorce. The relationship between the spouses will not be examined either.
Divorce must be applied for by written application. You can submit an application for divorce at the District Court office of your own or your spouse’s municipality. Applications can also be sent to the District Court office by post or e-mail or as a telegram. Divorce application forms are available on the Suomi.fi website.
Divorce is applied for in two phases. First you need to file an application for divorce. After the reconsideration period is over, you must file for a divorce again. You will be granted a divorce only after the second application. The divorce will be granted even if your spouse opposes it.
Association of Single Parent FamiliesDivorce in FinlandLink redirects to another website
When the first divorce application has been filed, a six-month long reconsideration period begins. The reconsideration period is mandatory if you and your spouse have not lived in separate households for at least two years.
If you and your spouse are filing for divorce together, the reconsideration period begins as soon as your application is filed at a District Court.
If one of the spouses is filing for divorce alone, the reconsideration period begins once the other spouse has been notified of the divorce application. The District Court will make sure that the other spouse is notified of the application.
After the reconsideration period
The District Court will grant the spouses a divorce when:
- the six-month reconsideration period has passed and
- one or both of the spouses asks to be granted a divorce.
The application asking that the court grants spouses a divorce after the reconsideration period is over is filed in the same way as the first application.
It is important that you file the application to be granted a divorce within one year after the reconsideration period began. If not, your divorce process will lapse.
Divorce without a reconsideration period
If you and your spouse have lived in different households without interruption for at least two years before filing for divorce, you will not need a reconsideration period. In this case, the court can grant you a divorce immediately.
If you are contemplating divorce and need help with negotiating various arrangements, you can apply for family mediation (perheasioiden sovittelu). Family mediation can often help you settle things without resorting to court proceedings. Arrangements related to your children, for example, can be discussed in family mediation.
The mediators are usually employees of social services, educational counselling centres or family counselling centres. You can discuss all matters with them confidentially.
Ask at the local social services office how family mediation is organised in your municipality.
Ministry of Social Affairs and HealthInformation on family mediationLink redirects to another website
Support during divorce
If you are having problems in your relationship, you can seek help for example at the family counselling centre of your municipality or your health centre.
More information on what to do if you are in a violent relationship is available on the InfoFinland page Problems in the family.
Many organisations and parishes organise support group activities for divorced people. More information is available for example on the websites of the Family Federation or the Family Counselling Centre of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland.
The website of Yhden Vanhemman Perheiden Liitto ry (association for single parent families) contains information and advice for parents who are thinking about separating.
The Miessakit Association (Miessakit ry) aims to promote welfare among men and provide social activities and support. The association has operations in Helsinki, Tampere and Lahti. Additional information is available on the association’s website in Finnish, English and Swedish.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of FinlandInformation on family counselling provided by the churchLink redirects to another website
Last name in a divorce
If your marriage ends in a divorce, your last name does not change. If you want, you can adopt a different last name. For example, you can adopt any last name that you have had before. Send an application for a change of name to the Digital and Population Data Services Agency.
Divorce and residence permit
If you have a fixed-term residence permit that has been granted based on family ties, divorce may affect your residence permit. In these situations, it is always considered case-by-case whether the residence permit is continued after the divorce or if it is cancelled. More information is available on the InfoFinland web page Can I lose my residence permit?
Property in divorce
Information on how to divide your property if your marriage ends in divorce is available on the InfoFinland web page Property in a divorce.
Children in a divorce
More information on children in a divorce is available on the InfoFinland web page Children in a divorce.
Help with legal matters
In the event of a divorce, you may have questions about residence permit issues, property matters, child maintenance support or matters related to the child’s living arrangements, custody and visitation rights. In legal matters, you can get help from a lawyer. They will advise you and ensure that your rights are secured. You can also contact a lawyer in quarrelsome divorce situations.
When you seek help from a lawyer, you should find out whether they are competent in the matters that you need help with. Not all firms or people who offer help with legal matters are necessarily competent.
Advice in legal matters is provided by law firms and state legal aid offices that employ public legal aid attorneys.
Public legal aid
The services of a lawyer are subject to a fee, but if your income is low or average, you may be eligible for free or partially reimbursed legal aid from a state legal aid office. Public legal aid is also provided in English, and the services of an interpreter may be employed if necessary. Public legal aid can be applied for at a state legal aid office.
If you have legal expenses insurance to cover your costs, you are not eligible for public legal aid. Legal expenses insurance is often included in home insurance policies.
Private lawyers and attorneys
You can search for a lawyer, for example, through the Etsi asianajaja service on the website of the Finnish Bar Association (Suomen Asianajajaliito).