In this section, you can find out how to file for a divorce, what the reconsideration period is and what to remember when moving out.
Filing for divorce
Divorces in Finland are filed directly at the district court (käräjäoikeus) of your area of residence. A divorce needs to be filed using the application form provided by the court. The filled form can be handed to the court either in person, by post, or through an authorized third person. Either of the partners can file a divorce separately – also against the will of the other partner – , or they can file it together. If only one partner files the divorce, the court informs the other partner, usually through a bailiff or by post. At the same time, he or she can then issue a written response. When filing for a divorce, you do not have to tell the court about the reasons for the divorce.
” Once you sign, you pay, you wait six months, and it's over. So the process itself is really clear.”
There is usually a six month reconsideration period (harkinta-aika), during which you and your spouse are supposed to think about whether you really want to end the marriage. It begins on the day the divorce was filed (in case both partners filed it together), or on the day the other partner was informed about the divorce application (in case only one of you filed for the divorce). The reconsideration period is obligatory, so you cannot skip it, even if you are sure about the divorce. During that period, you and your partner can either live together or separately.
Once the six months are over, you can proceed by either applying for the final divorce or withdrawing your previous divorce application if you decide to stay together. If you decide to apply for the final divorce, you must do so within six months after the reconsideration period ends – otherwise the divorce process will be dropped. Your divorce will be granted even if your partner does not want to separate.
If you and your partner have been living separately for at least two consecutive years, you can file for the divorce immediately and without the reconsideration period. When doing so, you need to prove that you have lived separately, for example by presenting an excerpt from the Population Information System (Väestörekisterikeskus).
“My problem was when I was looking for a place. When I had to move out, within one month. Because I lived with her. That was quite stressful.”
If you or your partner are moving out of your shared accommodation, you can file an order for the end of cohabitation at the same time as filing for the divorce. An agreement will be made about who gets to stay in your common home. You can also check with KELA whether the changing living accommodation situation entitles you to housing benefits.